How to give constructive feedback

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Feedback is an essential part of communication at work. At some point during your career, you’ll likely need to give constructive feedback to a co-worker or a team member you manage directly. Giving constructive criticism can be challenging and difficult to do well, but applying a coaching mindset can help. Here, we’ll explain techniques to give positive feedback and constructive criticism to colleagues.

What is constructive feedback?

Constructive feedback refers to a form of feedback that is given to individuals in the workplace to support them and identify their strengths as well as any weaknesses or concerns they may have. This kind of feedback has positive intentions, and is used as a supportive tool for communication

6 steps on how to give constructive feedback effectively

1. Focus on the situation and behaviour, not the individual

Constructive feedback should always relate to what you have directly seen or heard about the behaviour of an individual, rather than making assumptions or basing feedback on who the individual is personally. Feedback centred around the individual themselves could feel aggressive, rather than being objective and non-judgemental.

2. Focus on the ‘why’

A key part of constructive feedback is letting an individual know why you think they could do something better, and structuring your feedback around this reason. In this case, it’s important to be problem-focused and specific to ensure your feedback is actionable. 

3. Focus on feasible improvements

Whether you need to give feedback to colleagues or employees, there’s no point in focusing on things that can’t be changed. Constructive feedback should focus on what an individual can improve on, rather than things that are outwith their control. 

4. Find a solution

The best constructive feedback should leave the individual with a solution or recommendation that is agreed upon together. Give the individual a chance to reply to your comments from their perspective, then you can make sure you have all the facts to create a plan of action together.

5. Recognise positive achievements

Feedback doesn’t have to be all about what went wrong. GIving employees positive feedback is essential, and acknowledging positive aspects among negative feedback shows that you retain perspective around the situation. They need to understand that you are not being critical of their overall performance, but focusing on improving key areas of their work that require attention. 

6.Remember to listen

Constructive feedback should work both ways. Giving your employee or team member a chance to respond to your comments ensures the feedback turns into a valuable conversation rather than being completely one-sided. It’s also a chance for an individual to become part of the solution and share their ideas and perspective with you. 

Benefits of giving constructive feedback

Taking the time to give constructive feedback shows that you care about your team members and their development, both personally and professionally. It also enables you to confirm they understand the feedback you are giving, and gives you a chance to hear their opinions and develop next steps together.

When done right, constructive criticism can really boost employee morale, help manage expectations, and positively impact behaviour. Let’s look at how to give constructive feedback in an effective way.

Focus on situations and behaviour

Constructive feedback is most effective when it focuses on situations and behaviour, rather than people and their individual personalities. It should convey respect and support, without putting the individual on the defensive. Constructive criticism can help individuals understand when they are performing well, recognise their mistakes, and help them achieve their goals. Positive or negative, providing constructive feedback is one of the most valuable tools for effective employee development. 


Interested in developing your skills around giving feedback and inspiring your colleagues and employees? Learn more about our coaching courses, or get in touch – we’re always happy to offer plenty of advice and support.

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