5 Tips on How to Give Professional Managerial Feedback

One of the most important things to do in any managerial or supervisor position is give feedback. Feedback ensures that your direct reports are aware of the tasks they are expected to perform, and holds them accountable for achieving their goals. Most employees appreciate and understand the important of feedback, as it helps them grow professionally and succeed at their jobs. However, it can also be one of your most difficult duties. More often than not, managers deliver feedback in a way that makes their direct reports feel as if they are in trouble, or fail to deliver any feedback at all.

Try the following five tips to ensure that your feedback is constructive and appreciated.

1. Identify the Feedback

This may sound obvious, but simply opening a conversation with “Can I share some feedback?” or “Do you have a moment for some feedback?” immediately professionalizes and identifies the following conversation. Many employees are unaware when they are receiving feedback, which means that it is hard to hold them accountable if they make the same mistake twice. Be sure to precede and define any conversation you have with the actual word “feedback” so that your direct reports understand that you are taking an active role in their development.

2. Specifically Call Out The Behavior or Action

Just like you must clearly identify the fact that you are delivering feedback, you must also specifically identify the situation or behavior that you are delivering feedback about. Simply saying “Good job today!” is not useful feedback; in order to grow and succeed, your direct reports need to know what exactly they did a good job on. Likewise, they need to know what they could do better so that they can improve.

3. Explain

Explaining your feedback is the most important step in the entire process. After you have made it clear that you are delivering feedback, and clearly identified what you are critiquing, it is imperative that you explain why the action or situation you are focusing on is important. Explain to your employee how their curt interaction with a client can be damaging to your business, and offer suggestions on how to deal with a similar situation in the future. Alternatively, explain how the development of a new program by your employee will advance your business, and will make it easier to complete specific tasks. Explaining the importance of the deed or situation will make it clear to your direct reports that you really do pay attention to their daily actions and understand and value their importance in your company.

4. Keep it Short and Sweet

Once you’ve called out the feedback, identified the action, and explained its importance, it’s time to wrap it up. There’s no need to state the same thing multiple ways, or to drag out the interaction. If the feedback is positive, just showing your direct report that you appreciate them and understand their value to the company is enough. If the feedback is constructive, there’s no need to keep stating what your direct report did incorrectly. Unless your employee asks questions, or wants further clarification, make sure to wrap up the interaction in a timely manner. Remain professional, thank your direct report for his or her time, and return to work.

5. Offer Both Positive and Constructive Feedback

Too often managers only call out incorrect behaviors. It is your job to make sure that your direct reports know both when they do something wrong and when they do something right. Be sure to adequately praise your employees when they do a stellar job, as this will make it easier for you to deliver constructive feedback. If you only deliver positive feedback, it may look as if you don’t pay enough attention to the actions or behaviors of your direct reports, and if you only deliver negative feedback, it may come off that you are too harsh and judgmental. Make sure to maintain a balance of feedback so that your employees truly appreciate the comments that you offer.