Act immediately:

Feedback is best given shortly after you have observed the behavior or event. Do not wait weeks or even months to pull someone up after a bad incident or observed behavior. Depending on the severity, perhaps it can wait until your weekly meeting to broach the subject. However, if the incident was more severe, address it as soon as possible. Make sure you are properly prepared beforehand so you can provide solid, actionable feedback. The same goes for positive reinforcement – praise your employee’s work in a timely manner. Productive feedback means giving it frequently.

Pick the right time and place to provide the feedback:

Picking the right time and place is essential in providing feedback to your employee. How serious is the matter? Do you need to schedule a formal meeting to discuss the issue or can you have an informal chat in the tearoom? Wherever you decide to talk, make sure it is private so you can have an open and honest conversation without worrying about others overhearing you.

Be specific and use examples:

No one likes receiving vague feedback.  For example telling an employee he has lousy people skills is neither constructive nor effective. Make sure you prepare some specific examples of the behavior or incident you observed.  Explain the effects it has had on you and/or the team. By providing clear suggestions as to how the employee could do things differently will help foster a positive relationship with the employee for the future.

Avoid negative language:

Avoid using negative phrases that discourage and exclude, such as “You should not …,” and “I do not think…” when speaking. This kind of language puts people on the defensive.  This may cause the employee to shut down, ignoring and disregarding your feedback. Always try to be encouraging and use phrases that start with “Maybe you could try…”, or “Have you considered doing…?”

Use positive language:

When we receive feedback using positive language, it stimulates our brain and leaves us open to taking on new ways of learning. Try to give at least as much positive feedback as you do negative. Providing only negative feedback can turn on the threat response in people’s minds and defensiveness may set in. You do not need to avoid negative feedback altogether – many times you have to address negative behavior when giving feedback- just make sure you follow it up with a suggested solution or outcome. It has to be clear from the start that you are providing this feedback to help the other person – not to hurt or embarrass them.