Give Employees Actionable Feedback

Even the best employees can stand to improve their performance. Every worker has nearly limitless potential and can grow if handled properly.
Now, this doesn’t mean that contributors have to be coddled and treated like delicate flowers. In fact, that approach could be quite problematic, especially when project managers need their team members to improve from one initiative to the next.
You need to give constructive feedback so that your employees can develop new skills. If you offer an overabundance of praise, your workers will likely become complacent and production will stagnate as a result.
It can be a bit difficult to tell employees that they aren’t meeting expectations. Further, talking to talented professionals about ways in which they can improve might feel useless because they’re already your best associates. However, your job as a project manager is to ensure that workers are on the right path to continually grow throughout their careers.
Be realistic
If you’re explaining to contributors that they need to double their production while also handling other duties, you’re already making a couple of mistakes. While you want employees to reach for the stars, you shouldn’t set them up for complete failure by creating unreasonable objectives.
Before you start critiquing your team members, think about how they performed on the latest project. Identify trouble areas and praiseworthy moments so you understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. Once you have those, you’ll be able to create realistic goals for the entire staff and provide actionable feedback based on their most recent performance.
Give instructions
You shouldn’t compliment or critique a contributor and leave it that. Feedback should entail both your professional opinions and instructions on how to act on those thoughts. Scott Dobroski, community expert at Glassdoor, recently explained to Fox Business’ Andrea Murad that this strategy should be used at all times, even during positive discussions.
“When giving positive feedback, also give suggestions and direction on how they can improve and get to the next level,” Dobroski said.
As the project manager, you know what it takes for an employee to ascend to new positions and develop additional skills. However, your workers likely don’t share that same knowledge so they’re left wondering how they should go about implementing your suggestions.
By giving directions as well as feedback, you’re ensuring that your team members know how to respond and grow as professionals. Ultimately, this will strengthen your team and lead to enhanced production on future projects.
Further, directions will also show that you’re not just giving feedback just for the sake of being critical. The instructions will show your contributors that you’re invested in their development and want to give them all the necessary tools to thrive.
Frame it in a positive way
Your tone and delivery play a large part in how your employees will react to your feedback. If you’re overly positive, team members will walk away thinking that they don’t have to do anything in order to improve because you seemed so happy. Meanwhile, a negative approach can cause unnecessary stress and lead to emotional reactions, which can prevent contributors from learning.
In a report for the Harvard Business Review, Robert Pozen, a senior business lecturer at Harvard and author of “Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours,” wrote that managers have to find ways to cushion the blow so that workers can act on feedback instead of feeling attacked.
One strategy is to offer a compliment for every critique. This will show staff members that you’ve noticed the positive aspects of their performance and aren’t just focusing on the negative ones.