Discover how to give feedback that inspires growth. Plus, check out practical strategies and proven techniques in this comprehensive guide.
Feedback is a gift, but it’s not about what you say –– it’s about how you say it. Whether you’re a business owner or building a start-up team, providing constructive criticism that fosters growth, builds confidence, and motivates is a valuable skill, and we’re here to help. If you want to learn how to give feedback to your clients and colleagues, this in-depth guide is your roadmap. Weaving together practical strategies, tried-and-true techniques, and expert insights, we’ll teach you how to harness the power of positive reinforcement and become a catalyst for workplace change, transforming feedback from a stressful obligation into an inspiring motivator.
Feedback is a powerful tool 🧰
Effective feedback is a powerful tool for in-person and remote team management. Capable of driving exceptional performance and encouraging professional growth, it’s a skill that requires practice and thoughtful application. Delivering constructive criticism and insightful praise in a motivating way is a game-changer for enhancing workplace dynamics and mentoring others to achieve their true potential.
What is constructive feedback? 🗣️
Constructive feedback provides valuable insights into areas for improvement. Contrary to what some believe, it’s not only about pointing out mistakes, but it’s also about figuring out how to rectify them. Constructive feedback, which also includes empathetic speaking, pairs corrective suggestions with encouraging reinforcement.
There are several additional types of feedback, each with a unique purpose and impact:
- Positive feedback: This feedback acknowledges and reinforces an individual or team’s good work. For example, complimenting a colleague on a wonderful presentation celebrates their accomplishment and encourages continued high performance.
- Developmental feedback: This feedback identifies weak areas and suggests ways to better performance, helping individuals and teams recognize and remedy their weaknesses. For example, for a team member struggling with time management, developmental feedback might suggest techniques to hone this skill. This feedback type doesn’t take a negative turn. Instead, it takes a sandwich approach, starting with positives, highlighting unsatisfactory areas, and closing on a high with tips to improve.
- Evaluative feedback: This feedback, often used for a project or performance review, assesses performance against set benchmarks. It gives recipients a clear understanding of where they stand. For example, a sales manager might provide evaluative feedback to a team member about their sales numbers relative to the department’s sales goals.
- Coaching feedback: This feedback is more inclined toward training and learning. In these meetings, managers or other seasoned employees typically relay feedback to new employees, highlighting their progress in learning company-specific software. They also let newbies discuss hindrances and obstacles while studying particulars and seek help.
4 steps to give feedback 🎤
A highly effective approach to delivering feedback is the C.O.I.N. (Context, Observation, Impact, and Next steps) formula. This is an excellent way to promote understanding and growth. This method boosts the efficacy of constructive feedback through a clear, precise structure.
Here are the C.O.I.N. formula’s four steps:
- Context: Set the scene by defining the situation or event where the behavior or performance occurred. Grounding your feedback in specific incidents helps avoid generalities, which can contribute to feelings of confusion and defensiveness.
- Observation: Describe the behavior you observed, sticking to the facts and avoiding judgment and negative feedback. Observe behaviors with empathy but don’t label them.
- Impact: Clarify the impact of the behavior or performance on you, the team, or the project. This helps the receiver understand the consequences and outcomes of their actions.
- Next steps: Suggest actionable steps for the future, like a behavior change or additional training for the colleague or team member. Aim for the receiver of the feedback to leave the conversation with a clear understanding of how to positively move forward.
8 tips for giving feedback 🤓
Master the art of giving feedback to develop and strengthen your leadership mindset and skills. Leverage these eight tips to turn feedback sessions into high-performing tools for motivation and improvement, creating an environment of continual growth.
To hone your ability to provide effective feedback, consider the following:
- Be specific: Avoid vague feedback in favor of particular examples of the behavior or performance. When it comes to giving feedback to team members, examples of being specific include saying, “During meetings, it would help if you could present your ideas more clearly” instead of “Please communicate better.”
- Strike a balance: Remember how we talked about the sandwich approach? Integrating positive feedback with growth opportunities prevents your peer or employee from feeling attacked and becoming defensive or upset (use open body language, too).
- Be prompt: Give feedback as close to the behavior or event as possible. Waiting too long can make it irrelevant and ineffective.
- Focus on behavior: Focus your feedback on the receiver’s actions, not their personality. And choose your words wisely –– after all, you don’t want your coworkers to feel ambushed. For example, you can say “You didn’t prepare adequately for the presentation” instead of “You’re lazy.”
- Keep it goal-oriented: Provide a pathway for achieving the team member’s or team’s objectives.
- Make it a two-way discussion: Invite the receiver to share their thoughts and ask questions. This boosts employee engagement and helps you understand their point of view.
- Be open to criticism: Foster an open, collaborative environment for receiving feedback from your team or clients. This ensures everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinions and ideas.
- Follow up: Check in regularly after giving feedback to ensure the receiver implements the suggested changes. This demonstrates your commitment to their growth.
3 ways to give an opinion 📣
Respectfully offering an opinion is a vital skill, especially for delivering feedback. Depending on the situation and who’s involved, different methods of expressing opinions are more effective than others. Here are a few ways to convey your thoughts:
As a suggestion 💭
Give your opinion as a suggestion to leave room for discussion and mutual decision-making. For example, instead of saying, “You should use more visuals in your presentation,” you might say, “Have you considered adding more visuals to your presentation?” This non-confrontational method is often well-received.
As a statement 📝
Sometimes, being straightforward is necessary. In these situations, state your opinion clearly and confidently while remaining open to other perspectives. Following our above example, you could say, “In my experience, adding more visuals enhances the effectiveness of presentations.”
As a question 📤
Frame your opinion as a question to encourage dialogue and involve the recipient in the feedback process. For example, instead of saying, “I prefer more visuals,” you could ask, “Do you think your presentation might benefit from more visuals?” This promotes collaboration.
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Giving feedback is a communication skill that can significantly influence your team's success, clarity, and growth, and boost employee retention. By using the C.O.I.N. formula and the above tips and strategies in your feedback sessions, you can empower your team to reach their full potential.
As you strive to create a growth-centric work environment, remember that the right team members are just as important as the right skills. With the commission-free Contra platform, you can find the ideal Independents to build your team or the right manager or executive coaching expert to guide employees toward success. Sign up, browse our blog, or join our Slack community today.