Giving constructive criticism to anyone can be difficult. You might worry about how they will take it or whether they’ll be able to understand the feedback. Giving criticism to a tech team–already a group of individuals who think outside the box and are used to working in their own way- could be even more challenging. However, if you approach it respectfully and carefully, your feedback could go a long way towards helping them grow as professionals.
How To Give Feedback in a Constructive Manner
No one likes to give critical feedback, but it’s an essential part of every manager’s job. While it may seem like the easier option to put off giving negative feedback, doing so only gives your employees a chance to get stuck in their ways, and could also mean that they miss out on opportunities to grow.
Indeed, some people never take criticism well, no matter how it’s delivered. What if they get offended? What if they lash out? Won’t that make the problem worse? But with a little finesse and preparation, you can give your tech team the feedback they need without inciting their anger or discouraging them. Here’s how:
1. Think it through
Before you provide feedback to a team member, think through the effect it could have. The last thing you want is to hurt someone’s feelings or demotivate them with your comments. To avoid hurting anyone, take extra time to consider your words and how they might be received.
2. Deliver feedback in person
Provide feedback in person by meeting with your colleague either one-on-one or in a group setting. This allows each team member to ask questions and receive clarification on your comments. If you must provide feedback via email or over the phone, be clear and concise so that there is no room for confusion about what you are trying to say.
3. Maintain a balance
Be sure to give both positive and negative feedback to provide a balance for your employees. Not only does this keep the mood positive and help them feel less defensive, but it also makes them realise you like most of what they do; you just want them to improve on certain points.
Additionally, try maintaining a positive approach, even for negative feedback. While it might tempt you to take a critical approach, this can discourage employees and reduce the chances that they will implement your feedback.
4. Be specific
While it is important to give praise when it is due, be specific about what you like about a particular project so that your team member can repeat those successful practices later on. On the flip side, let them know what didn’t work well or why you were disappointed with their performance. Without specifics, it is difficult for people to improve.
A good way to make sure that you’re being specific enough is to use examples from past events. For instance, if you want them to be less assertive with clients, don’t say something nebulous like, “You’re too assertive.” Instead, bring up a specific event where they were assertive and explain why they should do things differently in the future.
5. Focus on the behaviour, not the person
The more you use “you” statements, the more likely your employee is to take the feedback personally. Instead of saying, “You’re just never punctual,” say, “Please make sure you arrive for your next meeting on time.” This sends a coherent message about what behaviour needs to change without attacking your employee.
6. Make suggestions
A successful leader can guide his team members to work to their greatest potential. After giving your feedback, try to finish with a suggestion for improvement as the next steps or a way forward. Giving suggestions makes you an influential leader, and it helps your team stay engaged, learn from their mistakes, and grow as people and professionals. Always remember that this is about helping your team grow—not about being harsh or making them feel bad.
You might be concerned about giving constructive criticism to your team in case they feel bad or you scare them away. You don’t want to put others down or over-complicate what you’re trying to say.
But when the approach is right, constructive feedback is usually appreciated—it opens the door for the person receiving it to grow and improve, which is important for everyone involved. And if you follow these tried-and-true guidelines above, giving constructive feedback doesn’t have to be scary. Keep checking this space for more insightful tips and feel free to contact us at CodeQuotient in case of any queries.
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