Some managers might feel as though they’ve done their jobs as long as they’ve given their employees feedback — no matter how specific or vague — during performance reviews. But in order to build the best team possible, managers have to offer constructive feedback whenever they critique their employees’ performances.
Generally speaking, there are two different types of feedback managers can choose to share with their employees: constructive feedback and destructive feedback.
- Constructive feedback: A technique that’s generally used to instill confidence in an employee while gently telling them what they could do in the future to perform even better. Imagine an English professor who teaches fiction writing telling a student that his or her story was interesting yet could be stronger if certain characters were further developed. Not only would the student be encouraged that they’re on the right track, but they would also know exactly what could be done to make the next draft even better.
- Destructive feedback: A tool that’s more or less used to hurt people’s feelings. Instead of telling employees what is great about their work and where they went wrong, managers who share destructive feedback with team members will usually just tell them that they are doing a terrible job without providing any evidence to support their assessments. Employees exit such conversations feeling defeated without necessarily even knowing what they’ve done wrong or how they could do better next time — simply because that information isn’t shared.
In other words, constructive feedback is a tool of a visionary leader. Destructive feedback is generally used by playground bullies — or managers who are really in over their heads.
(Learn how to nail performance reviews from start to finish with our guide)
In addition to helping foster a more pleasant work atmosphere, giving constructive feedback to your staff during performance reviews will also help your employees:
1. Gain a new perspective
Certain employees might feel as though they can do no wrong. That perception can change after a quick sit-down meeting with a boss who offers constructive criticism. Quite simply, constructive criticism allows employees to see their production from a new angle.
2. Feel as though they’ve done a good job
The first part of constructive criticism involves telling workers what they’ve done well. Even though there are areas that need to be improved, employees are still encouraged by the fact their bosses compliment their efforts. They know their time wasn’t spent in vain.
3. Understand they can do better
The second part of constructive criticism involves telling employees, specifically, what they did wrong and what they could do to avoid making the same mistake in the future. This encourages them to try harder, so their bosses don’t offer any of the same feedback twice.
4. Value your input and guidance
Teams admire managers who give constructive feedback. Employees understand that their bosses really care about helping them become better, more talented workers. As a result, employee-employer relationships become that much more trusting and stronger.
Every manager has a choice to make. You can either help your employees reach their full potential and earn their respect as a result, or you can take them for granted and create a toxic work culture.