How to give feedback to your team

Part of managing a team effectively is providing feedback. Beyond communicating when something goes wrong, feedback is essential to individual and team successes. Without honesty and encouragement, you’ll have a harder time moving forward.

Why give feedback?

Feedback motivates people to change their habits for the better. When it comes to positive feedback, this reinforces good habits and strong skills. Depending on where a person is in their career, they could benefit more from negative or positive feedback.

According to a study published in The Journal of Consumer Research, people who are less experienced in a particular activity prefer to get positive feedback, while those who are more experienced prefer to hear when they haven’t met progress goals. Those with less experience might feel less confident in their abilities, and thus, the words of encouragement reinforce commitment. On the other hand, people with more experience are usually focused on perfecting their craft, and want to “cut to the chase” to find out what needs improving.

Here are four things to keep in mind when delivering feedback.

1. Set expectations

A key to success in business is an open, honest work environment where transparency reigns. Before you can deliver this open, honest feedback to your team, set expectations about performance. If you don’t explain what you’d like your team members to do, you’re setting them up for failure.

2. Be specific

You’ve just pulled a team member aside to give them feedback. Rather than generalizing and just telling someone they’re doing a great job, explain it in detail: “Your sales presentation to prospect X really showed how well you understand the competitive landscape.”

3. Give it time

It’s important not to rush the feedback-giving process. The idea of providing feedback—especially when it’s negative—can make you feel uncomfortable and prompt you to deliver it and quickly move on. However, it’s best to let the feedback sink in, give the recipient time to process it and hold a deeper discussion later, if needed.

4. Provide next steps

At the end of your conversation, after you’ve given feedback, answered questions, or discussed your team member’s concerns, it’s important to provide next steps. If providing positive feedback, how can your colleague continue to improve performance even more? If providing negative feedback, how can you effectively correct a misstep or mistake and move on?

Mastering the art of providing feedback is difficult, but with some thoughtful practice, it can help you become a better leader with a more successful team.

Want more advice? Check out some of the other posts on our Careers blog!

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