The Art of Constructive Feedback

Linda ParkerEver had those days when you just really want to tell a staff member the brutal truth about their performance? If you are answering yes you are only human! Let’s face it, we’re not really supposed to tell people we work with that they are worthless and dim-witted!

We all give and receive feedback differently – some get defensive, offended and downright obstinate.  Others seem to listen, agree and take it in, and then promptly carry on doing things exactly the same way. Then there are those who are mortified, hanging their head in shame, and disappearing to a quiet corner to lick their wounds for a while.

Most of the time you aim for somewhere in the middle – for them to take note, demonstrate some accountability for their work and/or behaviour – good or bad, identify their own weaknesses and above all strive to improve.

I recently read an online article that provided some useful tips, and one point in particular resonated with me as a solid and effective approach, and one that I see used a lot in practice.

‘Try giving them a feedback sandwich’…

Basically this means breaking down the feedback process into layers.  Start with praising and complimenting their strong points, thus providing the ‘bread’. Then start to fill it with some areas that need work and improvement – careful not to overfill it and make it difficult to swallow! Then top it off nicely with some encouragement and positivity for better future outcomes.

Leading by example is more often than not the most successful way of driving performance in the right direction.  It doesn’t matter what position we hold, we are always looking for someone to inspire us.

I have two very strong, successful and dynamic leaders who have inspired me for the past 9 years, and who have also allowed me to see their more vulnerable side, which I think keeps it very real and honest, and builds a greater level of trust and respect …

What type of leader has inspired you?