The very nature of our society and the press focus on weakness, mistakes and things that we can’t do. News reports constantly remind us of all that is bad in the world (I can’t tell you the last time I felt uplifted after watching the news!), and even though they can be quick to build someone up, they obviously take an even greater amount of pleasure in shooting them down! It is therefore no coincidence that we take that style into the workplace and deliver messages in a way that perhaps have a negative connotation.

In the short time I have been coaching in the business world, it is becoming more and more clear to me that people are always asking for ‘constructive feedback’. The problem when someone asks their boss to ‘be as honest as possible’ though is that they more often than not, focus on what they may have done wrong and what they can’t do. Feedback can often be more negative than constructive and can be damaging to say the least.

For people to react positively to feedback, I think it is based on a couple of things.

What type of boss are you?

What type of boss are you and do you have the respect of your employees? I certainly know from the sporting world that if a coach lacks credibility or they are not trusted by their players, then trying to offer feedback can be futile. It just creates even more tension.

One size doesn’t fit all

One size definitely does not fit all, and everyone will therefore react in different ways. As a boss, you have a responsibility to know your team members and more specifically, the best ways to deliver these important messages. Some employees require an arm around them, some are happy with the brutal honest truth. It is up to you to know the difference as it is perhaps the manner and way it is delivered that will impact whether it is successful or not.

Make the message positive

Make the messages positive and when you tell people what they can improve, teach them how to do it too. It is your job as a leader to aid their development.

As a player, I thrived on being told that I had done something well and most certainly hated being criticised. If anyone else disagrees with that from their own point of view, I’d say they were lying. Simon Sinek recently tweeted the following, “The responsibility of a company is to serve the customer. The responsibility of leadership is to serve their people so that their people may better serve the customer. If leaders fail to serve their people first, customer and company will suffer”.

What are you doing to serve your people? How often do you compliment the individual members of your team and more importantly, how do you think it would make them feel? The most important part of feedback in my opinion is telling someone how valuable they are to the team. Focus on their strengths, focus what specifically they have done well and if there is something that needs attention, ask them for their thoughts on improvement first before telling them.

How to give constructive feedback