When you sit down with an employee to give feedback, it’s all too easy to veer off into a ditch. Constructive feedback can crash and burn as destructive criticism.

What feedback isn’t

To avoid such disasters, it’s important to remember, first, what feedback isn’t. It’s not:

  • Judgment. If you’re telling somebody that what they did was bad – or even good! – you’re not giving pure feedback.
  • Hindsight. If you’re telling somebody what they should have done, you’re not giving feedback.
  • Direction. If you’re instructing someone what to do in the future, it’s not feedback that you’re giving.

What it is
Next, remind yourself what feedback is: A concise explanation of how you experienced the other person’s behavior. Like this:

“Teresa, I noticed you sounded frustrated on that call with a customer. Can you tell me what was going on?”

That employee feedback conversation is off to a good start.

Source: “Nice Teams Finish Last,” by Brian Cole Miller.

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