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A 5-step checklist for constructive feedback

Giving constructive feedback is hard. Something didn't work, expectations were not met, there could be many negative emotions at play. There's a way to be constructive, through, when giving feedback!

How to give constructive feedback? To give a good, constructive feedback, follow the 5-step checklist:

  1. Focus on the facts: pinpoint the exact cause of the problem and base your feedback on clear, objective facts.
  2. Strip all emotions, accusations, judgement: take a deep breath and detach your ego and emotions from the conversation, try to be impartial.
  3. Suggest how the situation can be fixed: when you know the solution, offer it without being patronizing or smug.
  4. Stay positive: signal that it's not end of the world, unless it really is…
  5. Offer your help and support: feedback can be used in a constructive way to build healthy bonds in your team, don't alienate your colleagues just because something went wrong!

To illustrate a constructive feedback, look at the sample:

Hey Bob, the campaign on Facebook has very low CTR of 0.00001%, I think targeting could be improved to match the target clients more. It happens, so let's see how we can improve it. Let me know if you need a second pair of eyes to look at the new targeting!

By providing constructive and honest feedback, you give the receiver the opportunity to grow and learn. They will see it as your way to help and support them, instead of feeling threatened or humiliated.

How to receive constructive feedback? If you're the one receiving the feedback, see it as an opportunity and try to avoid feelings of shame and guilt. To help you with that, try following checklist:

  1. Listen to the feedback carefully: let the feedback giver finish, then ask for confirmation if needed.
  2. Write down or record the feedback: keep a record of the feedback, so you can come back to it when you're ready.
  3. Make a mindful break: take a short mindful break to clear your mind from negative emotions and have more clarity.
  4. Tackle the feedback: analyze, process, and improve the target of received feedback, based on the facts, proposed solutions, and personal help from the colleague who offered help.
  5. Report back: let the feedback giver know that you got their feedback into consideration, and how. It's okay to not follow it in full, as long as you had a good reason. It's a great moment to show gratitude and celebrate the struggle you managed to overcome together.

Giving constructive feedback is one way of embracing failure in a healthy way. It's an opportunity to learn and move forward if used smart!