10 Constructive Feedback Examples & How to Give It

Home » Resources » Constructive FeedbackUpdated: June 16, 2022

This is a guide on constructive feedback examples and instructions.

Constructive criticism is a conversation on work-related shortcomings or performance between an employee and their boss or supervisor. Effective communication is important so employees can see that you care about their professional development. The benefit of constructive criticism is that it allows employees to identify their current shortfalls or concerns and work on methods to address them.

Delivering constructive criticism is a managerial skill and leadership competency. These ideas are guidelines to give employee feedback effectively.

Here is what you need to know.

Examples of constructive feedback

As an effective manager, your job involves helping your team members grow and improve to achieve the team’s common objectives. This role may require giving employees tough criticism, but only if doing so would eventually benefit them. According to Psycnet research, more than two-thirds of workers think that the feedback they get from their manager does not help them grow and improve.

Turning difficult employee feedback into constructive criticism relies heavily on caring for the employee and confronting them directly. Below are examples of constructive feedback.

1. Poor time management and missing deadlines

Problems with time management might be an indication of disorganization or overzealous goals. Consider this situation a chance for professional development in both circumstances.

“I would want to speak with you regarding your most recent assignment since your delay affected the team. I am sure you did your best to finish your task on schedule, and in retrospect, we can see the hurdles more clearly. It would be great if you were proactive in identifying the hurdles before they affect your work in future projects. Is there anything we can do to help you speak up about these things?”

Here is a list of books on time management.

2. Failure to match goals and priorities

There are times when an employee might fail to meet the demands of a specific project at work. The issue might stem from not understanding the project’s scope or the priority scale. Your most engaged workers will feel bad about themselves if they fail to meet targets. You can take the time to acknowledge their disappointment but shift the focus to a lesson in goal-setting.

“I want to discuss your priorities with you. I see that you are doing an excellent job on projects 2 and 3. However, project 1 is slipping between the gaps. While I appreciate your personal investment in some initiatives, we must prioritize those that match this month’s goals. Are you certain that you have all the necessary tools and resources to complete Project 1? Do you believe there is work you could outsource to maintain a better focus on what has to be done first? Let us reconvene and re-define our objectives together.”

3. Negative outlook or low morale

Employees sometimes have low drive or motivation at work. This situation might be due to work or personal issues.

“I have discovered that you have been less enthusiastic recently, and your motivation and a sense of purpose at work matters a lot to me. Others team members are beginning to notice your attitude too. I want to make sure we are all on the same page and rallying behind each other as we go through this. Is there any issue that I need to know? Are you satisfied with the level of challenge in your current job? Can I do anything to assist you at all?”

Check out this list of ways to raise staff morale.

4. Lateness and absenteeism

Employees who are often late or absent generally struggle with organization skills and are usually not proud of their behavior. We recommend that you refrain from blaming the worker for the issue. Rather, draw attention to the problem by emphasizing the negative impact of the employee’s lateness or absenteeism on their performance in daily tasks.

“Hey, I noticed you were not at our morning meetings in the last few days. I am afraid that you may not have some of the important details we shared during the meeting, and that means you might not be on the same page as other team members. I would want you to spend some time reviewing what you missed. After that, let us come up with a strategy to prevent this from happening again.”

5. Lack of attention to details

Mistakes are inevitable, yet carelessness or distraction can lead to an above-average amount of errors. When addressing this issue, include examples so the employee understands your viewpoint. You can help them see things differently and offer a solution.

“The fact that you can view the broad picture is a significant asset to our organization. You know I really like that. In the last few projects, you have missed out on certain little aspects, such as A and B. Unluckily, the team suffered a setback since they needed to resolve those errors.”

“While focusing on those little blind spots, I want you to preserve your big-picture perspective. Let us create a comprehensive deliverables checklist for your next project, so you do not forget anything. Please give it a try, and then we can follow up and reevaluate.”

6. Negative attitude

It is important to deal with workplace toxicity quickly before it demoralizes the team. When speaking to the team member, affirm your interest in helping the employee and your willingness to listen to their concerns. However, let the employee know how their conduct, not yours, affects the team and your organization.

“I am delighted we are taking the time to check in. I have noticed that you are not as enthusiastic about your job recently. So, how are you doing? Is there anything more I can do to make your time here more enjoyable?”

“Thank you for your suggestions. If you have a problem, please let me know so I can assist you and the rest of the team. That is a smart approach that will pay off in the long run. I cannot assist in resolving your problems if you mention them to your colleagues, and it may foster a negative environment.”

Check out this guide to workplace toxicity.

7. A drop in employee performance

There are various reasons why an employee’s performance may have declined, ranging from personal life changes to disengagement. If you do not know the cause, you cannot talk about it. Take a generalized approach and let that guide your words.

“I am following up with you to know how things are with you. Your level of engagement at work has not been like before. Your happiness at work matters to me. Let us schedule a meeting to discuss your objectives and responsibilities to ensure we are on track.”

“This new reality has affected us all differently, and I have seen that some of our team members struggle to keep up with the speed we were working at before we went remote. I need to know what each employee’s roadblocks are so that we can overcome them before they affect our performance as a team. What has been the most difficult aspect of this experience? Is there anything missing that you need to be more productive? Do you have any input on how we can improve team cohesion and increase productivity?”

8. Speaking over others

An employee might interrupt or speak over colleagues during meetings. This attitude can be rude or unpleasant. On the other hand, the employee may believe that this particular behavior demonstrates their enthusiasm, knowledge, or ability to lead. You can use this energy to your advantage.

“Heath, Tuesday’s meeting was a pleasure to attend because of your enthusiasm for achieving our objectives. On the other hand, I saw that you interrupted several of your colleagues. In the future, I hope you will make room for others in team discussions so that everyone can voice their opinions. While not everyone is comfortable speaking out, their viewpoint may help us tap into our team’s strengths and resources.”

“It is obvious you are pumped up about working on this project. When you are pumped up, it is easy to forget to make space for others’ thoughts. As a result, I saw that you often talked over Travis and Betty. I would want you to create room for others in meetings and chats. It is a crucial skill for your professional growth, and it allows the team to make the most of their own strengths. Would you agree?”

9. Poor communications skills

Employees with poor communication skills usually fail to provide important feedback or updates on projects, or even ask for clarity when necessary. Communication might be difficult if your workers are afraid to come to you with problems or questions. Be sure to set clear guidelines and expectations for communications and show appreciation for updates to improve communication.

“I am wondering about the status of Y project. It is helpful if I know about any problems as soon as possible so that I can assist you in getting back on track. Let me know where we are every day by sending me an email.”

Check out this list of books about communication.

10. Problem with work-life balance

Sometimes, personal time or interactions outside work might affect an employee’s productivity. You need to ensure employees put in their hours and effort to progress the team’s goals.

“After the changeover to remote working, I have seen that you have been contacting the team outside of our normal working hours on a number of occasions. I try to provide as much scheduling flexibility as possible, but I also want to ensure that our productivity does not take a hit in the process. How many hours a week have you been putting in lately? What do you do to keep your work-life balance in check?”

Here is a list of ways to manage work-life balance during remote work.

Tips for providing constructive feedback

You may want to make assumptions about other people’s work patterns or experiences. One of the best ways to encourage your workers and ensure that they get what they need is simply to ask them questions. In your frequent one-on-one meetings, keep an eye on your team member’s productivity and obstacles. The following tips will help you provide effective feedback:

1. Define the purpose of the feedback

You should know the intended outcome of the feedback to guide the conversation effectively.  After clarifying the outcome, think of ways to provide feedback so that the employee is receptive to the message and will make the necessary changes. Keeping these ideas in mind will guide you guidance on structuring the conversation.

2. Give the feedback personally

Constructive criticism may be uncomfortable for both the receiver and the giver. However, resist the urge to be soft and convey the criticism through Slack or email. This method can lead to misinterpretations. It is better to provide feedback one-on-one, either in person or through video chat, so you can see how the employee reacts and answer questions. If direct confrontation is not your strong suit, then you may feel more comfortable and confident if you practice and roleplay these kinds of conversations to build your skills.

Check out this guide to holding virtual one-on-one meetings.

3. Make sure you focus on the most important details

Many workers think that the feedback they get is vague or general. Feedback should not be subjective. Meaningful and impactful feedback must concentrate on the employee’s actions and the results instead of who they are as an individual. Many managers often ignore this consideration during the feedback. For employee feedback to be useful, it must be applicable in the future. The feedback should aid the employee’s growth.

Effective feedback has three key components:
The action: the employee’s behavior and the methods.
The result: the impact of the employee’s action on the team and company.
The way forward: maintaining favorable results, enhancing average outcomes, and solving bad ones.

When you present feedback properly, your employee has a clear direction and not feel you are only being antagonistic.

4. Be specific

Constructive feedback should be specific and address one issue at a time. When an employee has a long list of issues to fix, the best place to start is to pick the most impactful one. Taking in too much constructive criticism at once may be overwhelming and stressful. The worst-case scenario is that the employee would despise you and lose motivation. At best, employees might experience confusion or go astray because they do not know where to begin fixing the problem.

Like the constructive feedback examples above, provide concrete examples to support your comments. Feedback should not be about your feelings only.

5. Avoid being too one-sided

Feedback should be a mutual conversation. You and your employee should work together to learn from the past and apply it to the future. At this point, you become an employee development coach in this job.
Be receptive to what your employees have to say about the problem. You can create this chance by asking open-ended questions after giving feedback. Getting feedback from employees is just as crucial as providing it. You want to know how your staff is feeling, and you want them to be able to share feedback when necessary. Make it a practice to ask your staff if they have any comments for you.

6. Avoid getting personal with the feedback

As mentioned earlier, focus on the actions, not the individual. Instead of starting sentences with “You are,” use the sentence structure “When ‘you do something'” or “Your performance on ‘project.'” For instance, instead of saying “You are disrespectful to people, and it is hurting the team,” you can say “When you talk over Tim in meetings, you make some team members feel less confident to talk.”

7. Discuss the implication of the employee’s behavior

When correcting behavior, outline the full ramifications of the actions, including how they affect you, the team, the company, and the employee’s future professional goals. The feedback should not stop at telling the employee what to do. Go the extra mile to explain the need to correct the action so the employee understands and takes the necessary steps.

8. Provide actionable tips and follow-up

Your feedback is not useful if it does not provide actionable advice to help the employee get positive results. At the end of the conversation, help the employee determine the next move. Often, these suggestions are not the steps you would normally take and are customizable to the employee’s preferences and style.  Then, schedule a follow-up meeting for the following week to gauge progress.

9. Offer compliments

Make sure to praise your employees during constructive feedback sessions. Boosting team members’ self-esteem by highlighting their strengths might help them succeed in their endeavors. An appreciative tone can also help them be more open to what you are saying instead of feeling defensive. However, make sure these compliments are sincere, otherwise, the praise may backfire and seem like flattery for the sake of softening a blow.

10. Provide regular feedback

Data from the Psycnet research indicates that 28 percent of workers believe that the frequency with which they get feedback is insufficient to help them understand how they might improve.
Managers need to cultivate a culture of ongoing employee feedback that extends beyond the annual performance review. Research shows that frequent coaching significantly impacts employee motivation, engagement, and overall satisfaction.

Having frequent one-on-one meetings with employees is a fantastic way to get their input consistently. As a manager, you can use a scheduling tool to plan out your conversation with your employee in advance so that both parties know the subjects of discussion. At the end of each meeting, you can set measurable action items to ensure that feedback has a real impact.

Conclusion

Managers need to provide feedback continually. You can practice giving constructive feedback to improve your skill. Making feedback a part of your team culture can promote your team’s growth and guarantee that team members contribute their best.

When providing feedback, it helps to take the time to show how much you care. You can praise your employees during constructive feedback sessions. You also give their self-esteem a boost by highlighting strengths that might help them succeed in their endeavors. A positive tone makes people more open to what you are saying instead of getting defensive.

FAQ: Constructive feedback

Here are answers to common questions about constructive feedback.

What is constructive feedback?

Constructive feedback is any advice you give to produce a positive result.

How do you give constructive feedback?

Constructive feedback needs to be face to face, timely, specific, and without personal feelings.

What are good examples of constructive feedback?

Good examples of constructive feedback include showing appreciation, providing actionable advice, and being specific.

What are phrases to use in constructive feedback?

When providing constructive feedback, you should include phrases like “When ‘you do something'” “Your performance on ‘project'” “Can I do anything.”

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Author: Grace He

Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.

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