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Learn how to give "tough messages" and still be liked and respected

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Providing feedback personally and professionally is always tough, but if it’s “constructive,” you not only get the message across, but, build a more cohesive and capable team/relationship as a result.

Do you remember when your parents told you to eat your veggies because they were good for you?

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Now that you’re an adult, you know they were right.

Well, just as they were right from the beginning, I’m asking you to trust me when I tell you this: constructive feedback is the only way to learn and develop—both personally and professionally.

That means, you as Manager, have a responsibility to your staff to help them develop. That means, you have to give constructive feedback.

What is constructive feedback?

First, I’ll tell you what it’s not.

Constructive feedback is not criticism (which has a negative connotation because it is so often generalized and personal).

Constructive feedback is a not personal (e.g. you are lazy), but a targeted response to an individual’s action or behavior (e.g. you did not accomplish the task you agreed to complete) that is intended to help them learn, and is delivered from a place of respect.

Constructive feedback is not “closed” but rather invites the individual receiving the feedback to shed light, share their perspective, or provide their response. (e.g. Do you see it differently?)

Constructive feedback does not blame, but presents a collaborative approach to problem-solving. (e.g. If we are all to go home tonight on time, task A needs to get done. What support can the team offer to finish task A, so that everyone gets to go home on time.)

Why constructive feedback works

Constructive feedback enables us to give honest, “tough messages” to those we work with.

However, instead of insulting, shutting-down others, or alienating those who receive the feedback, and lowering their morale and their resulting productivity, it motivates them to ask for help, and acknowledge a skill or competency deficiency, while feeling supported and respected.

Two of the most important factors influencing employee retention/satisfaction are: “great boss,” and “feeling part of a team” (Hay Group Study on retention). Constructive feedback, because it is delivered out of respect and a genuine desire for the individual to improve, accomplishes both.

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Providing feedback, in this way, enables you to build the competency and cohesiveness of your team, while effectively managing performance issues. It also enables you to remain respected, well liked, and overall, considered “a great boss.”

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