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A Leader's Guide to Giving Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

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Feedback is a critical part of effective communication. Yet, it is the most difficult thing for leaders to do well. Why is this? In many cases, it is because leaders are afraid of coming across as negative or critical.
Constructive feedback, in particular, can be difficult to deliver. No one likes to be told that they are not doing something well. However, remember that constructive feedback is not meant to be negative. It is intended to be just that – constructive. The goal is to help the individual understand what they could do better and how to improve.
Read on to learn about:
  • The difference between constructive and destructive feedback
  • The purpose of constructive feedback
  • How to give constructive feedback, including some constructive feedback examples

Constructive Feedback Vs. Destructive Feedback

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Feedback is a crucial part of any leader's toolkit. But it's also important to remember that not all feedback is created equal. In fact, there's a big difference between constructive and destructive feedback.
So, what exactly is constructive feedback?
Constructive feedback is about helping someone improve their performance by providing specific, actionable, and relevant information. It should always be delivered in a way that is clear, concise, and respectful. On the contrary, destructive feedback is about critiquing someone for the sake of criticism. It's often vague, emotional, and dismissive.
Among the biggest mistakes leaders make is assuming that all feedback is constructive. But the truth is, if the intention of your feedback is to put someone down or make them feel bad, then it's not constructive—it's destructive.
And while it might seem destructive, negative feedback is more direct and honest, it's actually less effective in the long run. That's because when people are on the receiving end of destructive feedback, they're more likely to become defensive. They'll less likely to listen to what you have to say.
On the other hand, constructive feedback can help people identify areas where they need to improve. It can give them the information they need to make those improvements. It also shows that you're invested in their development and want to see them succeed. So, if you're looking to give feedback that will actually lead to a positive outcome, make sure it's constructive.

2 Types of Constructive Feedback

Here are the two types of constructive feedback you can give to your employees.
1. Motivational - This type of feedback encourages employees to continue doing well in certain areas or feel more determined. It can help them see their own abilities as being successful. It also allows for a greater sense of self-confidence which will inspire future success.
2. Developmental - This is a great way to encourage employees and help them figure out how they can improve their skills. You might use corrective feedback if someone has been struggling with completing tasks in the right manner. For instance, by trying something new, like getting creative or using different tools for optimization purposes.

The Power of Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

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An old saying goes, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." But when it comes to giving feedback at work, that is not always the best approach.
In fact, there are reasons why you should give constructive feedback, even if it is not always easy to hear.

It helps people grow.

Giving constructive criticism will help people grow and improve their jobs. No one is perfect. Everyone has room for improvement.
By giving specific, objective, and actionable feedback, you can help people identify areas where they need to make changes. And when people are aware of areas that need improvement, they can take steps to make those changes.

It clarifies expectations.

When expectations are not clear, employees can become confused and frustrated. Constructive feedback provides a concise description of what is expected so that there is no room for interpretation. This clarity leads to increased productivity and decreased frustration.

It facilitates communication.

Feedback—both positive and negative—is a crucial part of effective communication. When you give feedback, you're providing information that can help improve the situation.
For example, if someone is not meeting your expectations in their job, giving them feedback lets them know what they need to change. And if someone is doing a great job, your feedback lets them know their efforts are appreciated.

It builds relationships.

Giving and receiving feedback can be a great way to build relationships with your employees.
When you give feedback, you're showing that you're invested in their growth and development. And when you receive feedback, you're showing that you're open to hearing about areas where you can improve. These interactions can help create a stronger bond between you and your employees and foster a more positive working environment overall.

It reduces conflict.

It is not easy to speak with a subordinate about areas of improvement without causing conflict. However, if the feedback is given in a constructive manner, the conversation will be much more productive. By focusing on the behavior or task that needs improvement instead of personal attack, conflict can be avoided. And productive solutions can be found.

10 Ways To Give Feedback In The Workplace

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Giving constructive feedback can be challenging. But it's important to remember that it's a crucial part of being a leader. When done correctly, it can help employees feel more engaged and motivated. It can even improve the bottom line of your business.
Here are ten tips for giving manager feedback:

1. Be specific

When giving feedback, it's important to be as specific as possible. This means avoiding general comments such as "you're doing a great job" or "you need to try harder." Instead, focus on specific areas of improvement or praise.
For example, you may say something like, "I noticed you met your sales goals for the month." Or "I noticed you're starting to arrive late for your shifts." Being specific will help employees understand what they need to continue doing or what they need to change.

2. Be clear and concise

When giving feedback, always be clear and concise. Employees must know exactly what they should work on and why it's important. Otherwise, they won't be able to take your feedback and use it to improve their performance.
It's also important to avoid giving too much information at once. Employee focus can quickly become scattered if you try to cover too many topics at once. Stick to one or two main points, so your message doesn't get lost.

3. Use "I" statements

When giving feedback, use "I" statements rather than "you" statements.
For example, instead of saying, "You need to be more punctual," try saying, "I noticed that you've been arriving late for your shifts." This will help the employee feel as though you're giving them feedback rather than attacking them.

4. Avoid using absolute terms

When giving feedback, avoid using absolutes such as "always" or "never."
For example, instead of saying, "You never arrive on time," try saying, "I've noticed that you've been arriving late for your shifts." This will help the employee feel as though they have some control over the situation. And that they can change their behavior if they want.

5. Be aware of your tone

Your tone is as crucial as the words you use when giving feedback.
Avoid sounding judgmental, condescending, or angry. Instead, focus on sounding supportive and positive. This will help the employee feel you're trying to help them improve rather than putting them down.

6. Focus on the positive

Even if the majority of your feedback is negative, try to end on a positive note. Positive feedback will help employees feel motivated to make the changes you've suggested. It will also prevent them from feeling defeated by the process.
For example, you can say something like, "I know that with a few tweaks, you'll be able to meet our high standards."

7. Give actionable advice

Giving employees the best opportunity to improve their weaknesses is important. If you identify negative behaviors that need improvement, offer an action plan for how they can work on them and be confident in themselves as well.
Provide your employees with realistic changes that they can make. Be honest and objective about what needs improvement without making promises or commitments.

8. Deliver the feedback face-to-face

Good constructive feedback is often more effective when delivered in person.
With a face-to-face feedback session, you can see how your recipient's facial expressions change with each word that comes out of their mouth. You will also be able to observe their body language.
You can provide constructive feedback via email, instant messenger, or phone. But these technologies lack most of the crucial details, causing misinterpretation. Most especially so that most people don't pause long enough before typing after sentences have been completed. These forms of communication eliminate crucial contexts like body language, humor, and vocal tone.

9. Be consistent

Regularly giving helpful feedback will make your relationships more productive. You'll be on the same page regarding performance and expectations. This means that you're better prepared to give them their deserved praise when something significant happens, like an issue with workflow or productivity levels. You can also fix any problems they may have had so they won't happen again.

10. Be timely

Don't leave feedback for someone else's work in a state where you could easily forget your employees' positive behaviors. It should be fresh both on your mind and theirs. That way, the conversation will remain relevant with actionable items at hand. This also gives the context about challenges faced during project execution which help guide future decisions or discussions.


Giving constructive feedback is an integral part of being a leader. It helps employees feel more engaged and motivated. It can even improve the bottom line of your business. By using the tips we provided, you'll be well on your way to giving effective constructive feedback that will benefit you and your employees.
If you are unsure how to deliver feedback to your employees, join our leadership development program today. Our mentorship and leadership learning resources here at B2B Leaders Academy will provide you with everything you need to become an effective leader. Most importantly, you'll receive coaching sessions with Nils Vinje, your leadership coach.
© 2023 B2B Leaders Academy. All Rights Reserved.
© 2023 B2B Leaders Academy. All Rights Reserved.