As a manager, you evaluate your team members’ work and provide them with feedback. This is easy when someone has done a brilliant job and you can genuinely thank and praise them. But when an employee has completed a task and the result leaves a lot to desire, you need to be able to offer constructive criticism that coaches them on how to improve, while at the same time making them feel valued and supported.
So how do you do this?
Have the intention to help the employee grow.
According to Harvard Business Review, you need to be authentic in your intent to help your team member develop rather than to show them what they did wrong. It can be helpful to take some time before speaking with the employee to determine what you want them to learn from the conversation.
Establish trust and rapport.
Your employee should always feel valued and respected. If they’re worried about losing their job, they’re unlikely to be in the right mindset to fully take in what you have to say—and that could compromise future improvement. Reassure the team member that they have your support and are included in your team’s plans for the future, as Inc. advises. It can also help during this step to highlight the things the employee did well.
Provide context as to why something needs to be improved.
The more information and knowledge an employee has, the better they can perform. Help them see connections between their work and the next steps in the process, as well as your company’s final product or service.
Invite the employee to share their thoughts about how to improve.
When you’ve explained what needs improvement and why, it’s time to move on to the “how.” At this point, it’s helpful to get your employee thinking about a course of action that will allow them to develop and grow—not just with the company’s purpose in mind, but also in light of their own professional goals. In addition, set an objective that will enable you both to see how the employee has improved by a specific date.
For every manager, it’s critical to master providing challenging feedback that inspires development. Why? Because it can mean the difference between employees who feel empowered and supported—and therefore contribute positively to the business—and workers who feel undermined and unsupported—and therefore don’t do their best work.