It is hard to give feedback. It especially gets even harder to give constructive feedback. Sometimes we get worried that it may be misinterpreted or taken in the wrong way and hurt feelings. Luckily, there's an easy 5-step framework to help you give constructive feedback. Let's get into the details.
Step 1: Clarify Intent
Why are you giving the feedback? What is the purpose of your feedback?
We give feedback because we care about the other person and we want to see them grow and succeed. The receiver needs to know clearly that the feedback is well-meaning and that it is coming from a place of genuine care.
Action: A short sentence (or two) explicitly describing your intent for giving feedback.
Step 2: Provide Context
When did it happen? Where did it happen?
General feedback without any context may feel like a personal attack or judgment. Briefly describe the context to make it concrete and directed towards a particular situation.
Action: Briefly describe the date, time, and place, whichever is relevant, to give feedback that is directed towards a particular situation.
Step 3: Describe the situation
What exactly happened? Can you give specific examples?
Feedback without describing the situation with specific examples might come across as vague, difficult to interpret, and may lead to ineffective action (if any).
Action: Describe the situation and give specific examples to ensure that the receiver clearly understands what you are talking about.
Step 4: Give your Opinion
What is your opinion on the situation? What do you think/feel about it?
Up until this point, we have only specified our intent and facts to paint a clear and precise picture of a specific situation. Now we give our personal interpretation. Your personal interpretation could be based upon facts or it could be what you think or feel about the situation.
Action: Give your honest opinion on the situation.
Step 5: Prescribe Next Steps
What should the receiver do now? What do you recommend and why?
Feedback without next steps can feel confusing and ineffective. Clearly describing your proposed recommendation makes it easy for the receiver to take away a tangible course of action. A brief explanation of the rationale will give the receiver much-needed insights as to why you chose the particular feedback.
Action: Give clear recommendations for next steps along with a brief statement for the rationale behind the recommendation.
Example for constructive feedback
"Chris, I want to point out an area of improvement for you, which will help you connect better with coworkers and further grow as a leader."
Context and Situation
"During the marketing session on Friday afternoon, you were constantly on your laptop during Josi’s presentation and you didn’t engage with any questions or comments at the end of the presentation."
"In my opinion, that really threw Josi off as her morale got down whenever she looked at you. She even hurried during the last 5 slides to finish faster."
"It might be a good idea to shut off your laptop during the team presentations and take notes on paper. Also, I would really recommend you to ask questions and engage during or after the presentation as your knowledge of sales shapes marketing strategy and your opinions would have added to the conversation."
Good luck :)