How to: Give motivating and engaging feedback

Giving feedback is an important part of any business or team. It provides guidance and encourages growth, collaboration and improved performance. Giving motivating and engaging feedback can go a long way in developing a positive team culture and helping everyone reach their goals.

Colleagues discussing work near a monitor

Purpose and benefits of giving feedback

Giving feedback can help employees understand how their work affects the overall success of a business. It also helps managers and leaders develop better relationships with their team members, as well as create a more positive work environment. By providing timely, clear and accurate feedback to people, they understand expectations and can make improvements where needed.

Types of feedback

There are different types of feedback you can give, depending on the situation. Here are a few examples.

• Positive reinforcement

Also known as ‘praise’. Positive reinforcement involves rewarding and recognizing good performance or behaviour.

• Constructive criticism

Constructive criticism is designed to help the employee improve their performance by highlighting points and area's of improvement.

• Suggestions

This type of feedback involves offering suggestions and ideas on how to improve performance or behaviour.

• Coaching

Investing the time and effort into coaching can be highly rewarding - it aids employees in developing their expertise, achieving their professional objectives, and ultimately experiencing career growth.

The basics of giving feedback

In a nutshell, you can simplify the process into four basic steps.

1. Inform the recipient

Before you give feedback, let the recipient know what to expect from the talk. This will also allow the recipient to prepare for the talk and mentally prepare.

2. Describe the behaviour that you observed

When describing the behaviour, provide as much detail as possible. Outline the areas where improvement is needed and explain how the recipient can learn from them.

3. Explain how it impacted your team, project or business

Explain how the behaviour affected other team members and how it impacted the project or business. The recipient should understand the implications of their behaviour so that they can better understand why it must be changed.

4. Provide actionable recommendations for improvement

Explain why you think the situation could be improved, and present your opinion on how it could have been handled differently. Make sure your feedback includes concrete suggestions for improvement. List out steps that the recipient can take to make progress and provide resources if necessary.

Additional factors to consider

Next to the basics outlined above, there are a few other factors you should consider when giving feedback.

1. Set the tone

It is essential to create an environment where feedback can be received in a safe and supportive manner. This includes avoiding criticism and judgement, striving for mutual understanding, and maintaining a high level of respect.

2. Make it timely

Give feedback as soon as possible after the event or situation you are commenting on. Waiting too long can lead to confusion and having the feedback dismissed.

3. Focus the feedback on the behaviour

Avoid giving feedback on the personality of the recipient. Explain what went wrong and why it is important to change, rather than focusing on the individual.

4. Invite two-way dialogue

Feedback should not be a one-way conversation. Inviting an open discussion about the situation allows for two-way dialogue and encourages participation.

5. Use clear language

Be brief and to the point, and use language that is easy to understand. Avoid using jargon and technical terms that the recipient may not be familiar with.

6. Speak for yourself

Don't talk about the experience or opinion of others. Avoid making assumptions based on what you think someone else may have experienced.

7. Making it motivating and actionable

When giving feedback to employees, try to make it as motivating and actionable as possible. Encourage the employee to take ownership of their learning and development, by giving them tangible steps they can take to improve.

8. Share positive recognition

Make sure to acknowledge employees for their hard work and reward them. This can help motivate them to continue doing the same or better in the future.

9. Celebrate successes

When employees achieve goals, take the time to celebrate their success. This will encourage them and let them know that their hard work is appreciated.

10. Follow up

Finally, make sure you follow up with the recipient and check in on their progress on a regular basis. This will help ensure that the feedback is taken seriously and acted upon in a timely manner.

Examples of good feedback

Below are just a few examples of how to give feedback effectively. It is important to remember that the goal of feedback is to provide constructive criticism and help someone learn and grow from the experience.

• “I noticed that you arrived late for our meeting yesterday. It impacted the team’s ability to move forward on the project. Please try to arrive on time in the future so that we can stay on track.”

• “I noticed you had difficulty staying on task during the project. To help you stay focused, I suggest setting a schedule for yourself and breaking down tasks into smaller chunks that are easier to manage.”

• “I noticed that you were struggling with the programming language we are using. To help you better understand the concepts, I suggest taking some online tutorials that cover the basics.”

Things to take-away

  • Giving feedback is an important part of the performance management process. It is essential to provide employees with timely and meaningful feedback so that they can understand their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
  • The basics when giving feedback should include: describing the behaviour, explaining how it impacted your team, project or business, providing actionable recommendations for improvement.
  • When providing feedback, it is important to make sure that it’s clear and specific, focusing on the behaviour, not the personality of the recipient.
  • Additionally, make sure to set the tone, be timely, invite two-way dialogue, use positive reinforcement and follow up.

About me

Hi, I’m Lilian. I’m currently the head of a design team in a digital agency in Amsterdam and love to write about leadership and share tips based on my experience over the past couple of years.

Lead by design

I decided to start this blog as a way to share my thoughts on leadership. I’m passionate about helping others learn more about leadership and how to be a good leader, so I hope this blog will be helpful to those who are looking for tips and advice on leadership.

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