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10 quick tips to share constructive feedback

Most people know that sharing feedback is important. We receive and give it every day - from home, to work. It helps us to see our strong and weak sides, coordinate our actions, and overall be more productive and better versions of ourselves.
But when it's time to give or receive feedback, most people cringe. Even though feedback is an integral part of motivation, it also might become a source of demotivation and hurt us, when given wrong.
In this article, I'd like to share some quick tips that you can implement right now on how to share constructive feedback in the right way.

For more comprehensive and detailed info about different types of feedback and the power of feedback, check out the Plai blog. We strongly encourage investing some time to dive deeper into the topic of feedback since it's such an essential part of creating a highly-performing team.

1. Prepare in advance

Feedback sharing is not where you should practice your improvisation skills. Do not rely on your memory. Be prepared before the conversation, especially when giving negative feedback. When emotions raise high, you might say something that you'd later regret.

Moreover, it's almost always clear for the receiver if you're improvising. By investing time in advance in the preparation, you also signify that you care about the other person and (s)he is more willing to listen to your advice.

2. Choose the right time

The best feedback is a timely one. The earlier you share it, the earlier a person can correct his/her behavior and improve. It might sound counterintuitive, but even the negative feedback it's better to share as soon as possible. All parties (the receiver, the team, the company) would be better off. Waiting until the end of the month is pointless. Trying to recall the situation from half a year ago is much harder.

Check out the article "The art of giving feedback" for more examples and templates.

Note: if the situation involves high emotions — better wait some time to calm down.

3. Be specific

Avoid any generalizations. Discuss specific characteristics or actions instead. Concrete examples help get to the point faster and act accordingly.

| Bad: "You are irresponsible!"
| Good: "You missed the deadline for the last two big projects you were responsible for. It delayed the whole product launch and cost us quite a lot of money. Let's discuss what the reasons were and how we can avoid such a situation in the future."

Always ask for an example of the general statement, don't take it for granted.

5. Start with positive, but do not overpraise

Positive start helps to get comfortable and build rapport. There should always be something positive to say about your colleague, even when the harsh negative feedback follows it.

Aim to make the feedback sharing process a positive experience.

However, be careful not to overpraise. You don't want the person to end up thinking, "I'm such a valuable productive colleague." But rather, "Ok, I did a great job designing the concept, but the copywriting part needs way more improvement. Let's work on that."

Note: Do not use "Shit Sandwiches." They don't work. Honestly mention strong and weak points, don't try to create a "shit sandwich."

6. Discuss 1–2 issues at once

Do not discuss everything at once. People don't remember too many points and might get overwhelmed. Give them time to reflect and act on your feedback. Save other, less critical points for later conversations. This is one of the few exceptions when it's worth postponing the talk for a while.

7. Ask clarifying questions

Before trying to complain or blame, always clarify the situation beforehand. You might not be aware of all the details, or another person might have a different opinion from yours.

Be willing to admit it when you're wrong. Feedback sharing is a two-way discussion, not a monolog. And clarifying questions is your invaluable tool to spark an honest conversation.

8. Create actions items for improvement

Give suggestions about how to help the person develop his strengths and fix the weaknesses. By sharing ideas, you show that you do care about the other person. They will appreciate it.

However, don't try to enforce your point of view or your advice. People don't like being taught how to live. Give suggestions and let the other person decide which one to implement.

9. Do not criticize a person, especially in public

Never criticize the person, discuss his actions instead. Do not generalize from a few actions; better help them understand the problem and fix it.

| Bad: "You are a terrible writer!"
| Good: "In the last 2 articles, you made critical mistakes in 8 out of 10 paragraphs. It took a lot of time for our editorial team to fix it. Let's think together what can help you to be more diligent."

Also, be aware to avoid any public criticism. Public criticism would not help you create a psychologically safe environment, and people would avoid telling you about any problems at all.

On the other hand, public recognition works great. Criticize privately, praise publicly.

10. Relationships come first

We share feedback to achieve some goal, whether it's increased performance, better delivery, or some other Objectives. However, your team can only achieve the goals if you create a productive work environment.

Seek first to understand and then to be understood. Such conversation is the most valuable when you sow it on the fertile soil of trustworthy relationships.

Invest in building teamwork first, in creating a high-performing culture; feedback will come more comfortable after that.

Summary

I hope this article gave you some actionable tips on how to share constructive feedback on your team. Being proactive about setting up a regular feedback process would save you a lot of time and energy in the long-term, and would set your team for success and continuous improvement.

Check out a simple app Plai to ask and give feedback. Smart tips and templates will help create a culture of feedback in your team. Forward-thinking organizations are already using Plai to develop a culture of feedback in their companies.

And last but not least. Share all the feedback with love ❤️.
24 February / 2020
Author: Andriy Bas
CO-FOUNDER & CEO PLAI

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