All Feedback is a Gift: 4 Ways That Managers Can Give Constructive Feedback

By Sivan Kaspi, Updated on November 08, 2023, 8 min read
Constructive Feedback

For managers, one thing stands out as a core of effective leadership: constructive feedback. As managers, our role isn’t just to lead but to nurture, guide, and help our teams grow. Our previous article in our leadership series looked at how to build trust and rapport with your team. Part of building that trust and rapport is through the proper feedback. Constructive feedback is what bridges leadership intentions with team growth. When delivered well, feedback becomes more than just words; it transforms into a catalyst for change, improvement, and innovation in the workplace. A 2022 Gallup report found that employees who receive regular feedback (whether positive or negative) are more engaged than those who do not. Specifically, employees who report receiving feedback on their strengths are 8.9 times more likely to be engaged.


Every piece of feedback, be it positive or negative, offers a fresh point of view. It’s a gift. It’s a mirror reflecting not just what’s here today but also what’s possible with growth. When managers provide constructive feedback, they’re not just sharing what they’re seeing; they’re sharing a vision of what can be achieved with the right team productivity. The worst thing you can do for someone at work is withhold feedback. As we just said, all feedback is a gift. The opposite of feedback is apathy.


Feedback is the compass that guides professionals through the time of their careers, helping them navigate challenges, continue to grow, and capitalize on opportunities for advancement.


“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard



Understanding Constructive Feedback

Constructive feedback


Constructive feedback isn’t merely pointing out an employee’s flaws or areas of improvement. It’s a balanced blend of insightful observations that highlight both strengths and areas that need enhancement. It’s about recognizing the potential in every wrong step and the opportunity in every success. Constructive feedback is the roadmap that guides employees from where they are to where they could be. It’s not about criticism; it’s about growth, understanding, idea sharing, and mutual respect. When handled well, constructive feedback is very positive.


Constructive feedback is a tailored communication designed to offer insights into an individual’s performance throughout either a set time or on a project. It’s not just about pointing out areas that require improvement but also about providing actionable solutions and recognizing strengths. It’s a dialogue, not a monologue, aimed at encouraging growth and understanding.


We should work to be better, not to be perfect, because perfection is impossible to attain.” – Simon Sinek 


5 Core Components of Constructive Feedback:

  1. Specific

    Constructive feedback is about details. It’s essential to pinpoint specific behaviors or outcomes, replacing vague generalizations with precise examples to ensure the message’s clarity.

  2. Balanced Perspective

    Constructive feedback offers a holistic view of performance. It’s a blend of recognizing what’s done well and addressing areas that need enhancement, ensuring that the recipient feels valued and understands where growth is possible.

  3. Actionable Next Steps

    Simply pointing out areas of improvement without offering a way forward is incomplete feedback. Constructive feedback always comes with clear, actionable steps, guiding the recipient towards improvement.

  4. Empathy and Respect

    Constructive feedback is delivered with genuine care, understanding, and respect. It’s a tool to uplift, motivate, and guide, not to belittle or demoralize.

  5. Timely

    For constructive feedback to be truly effective, it must be timely. It should be given close to the event or performance it addresses, ensuring its relevance and allowing for immediate reflection and action.

On the journey of professional growth, constructive feedback is an invaluable companion, guiding, challenging, and supporting individuals towards their peak potential. By truly understanding its essence and components, we can ensure that it serves its purpose effectively and empathetically.



Creating a Conducive Environment for Feedback

A feedback session isn’t merely a transaction of words; it’s an exchange of trust, understanding, and vision. In the right environment, feedback becomes a bridge to growth, while in a hostile or indifferent setting, it can turn into a barrier. A receptive environment ensures that the feedback is not just heard but truly listened to. It fosters a sense of mutual respect, where both the giver and receiver of feedback feel valued and understood.


Use a communication tool to create a feedback culture where your team can thrive

Tips on Creating a Safe Space for Honest, Constructive Discussions:

  1. Open Dialogue

    Encourage a two-way conversation. Feedback shouldn’t be a monologue. Allow room for questions, clarifications, and reflections, ensuring that the process is collaborative.

  2. Physical Setting Matters

    Choose a neutral, comfortable space for feedback sessions. Avoid places that might feel intimidating. A relaxed setting can ease tensions and pave the way for a more open discussion. If you’re remote, ensure that you aren’t multitasking during the feedback session.

  3. Active Listening

    As a manager or team leader, practice active listening. This means fully concentrating, understanding, and responding to what the other person is saying, ensuring they feel heard.

  4. Avoid Blaming

    Focus on behaviors and outcomes, not personal things. Constructive feedback is about growth, not blame. Address the situation, not the person.

  5. Reinforce the Objective

    Begin feedback sessions by reiterating the goal – to foster growth and improvement. This sets a positive tone and aligns both parties to a common purpose.

  6. Confidentiality

    Ensure that feedback remains confidential. This builds trust and ensures that the individual feels safe to discuss, reflect, and act upon the feedback without fear of gossip around the company.


Mastering the Delivery: Techniques for Impactful Feedback

For effective constructive feedback, the delivery method can often carry as much weight as the message itself. Just as choosing the right platform for communication (phone vs email), selecting the appropriate medium for feedback can make all the difference.



In-Person vs Remote:

In-person feedback has its advantages. The direct face-to-face interaction allows for immediate reactions, body language cues, and a personal touch. It’s akin to the hands-on approach of the early tech enthusiasts, where every interaction had a tangible feel. However, in our increasingly digital world, remote feedback is becoming the default. While it may lack the direct physical presence, it offers flexibility, convenience, and often a comfort level for the receiver, being in their own space. One thing should be clear: no multitasking. Focus on the Feedback



Phone Call vs Video Meeting

A phone call relies heavily on tone, pacing, and clarity. It’s the equivalent of an audiobook vs a movie – the message is clear, but some nuances might be missed. On the other hand, video conferencing bridges this gap. It brings in the visual element, allowing for a more holistic feedback session. It’s the modern-day evolution, combining the best of both worlds.


Real-World Example:

Consider a manager wanting to discuss a team member’s recent presentation skills. An in-person feedback session might involve sitting down, going through the presentation slides, and offering direct pointers on slides in a positive way. If this were remote, screen sharing on video calls could replicate the experience. However, a phone call might focus more on the content, delivery, and overall structure, without the visual walkthrough.

The key is to remember:

  • Focus on outcomes

  • Deliver a positive end outcome

  • Encourage when possible


The Follow-Up

Feedback follow up


Constructive feedback, while important, is just the starting point. The real magic lies in the follow-up. Managers must create an action plan. What’s next, what does success look like, etc. Document it and make it happen.



The Significance of Follow-Up Actions Post-Feedback:

When constructive feedback is shared, it sets a mechanism in motion with the employee. It’s a pivotal moment where a manager has reached out, bridging a gap, offering actionable insights, and sharing perspectives. This process is merely the first step in a journey of growth and understanding for the employee. Feedback isn’t a one-off event; it’s a continuous cycle.


The absence of consistent follow-up after providing constructive feedback can lead to stagnation or make the employee feel like it doesn’t matter. It’s similar to lighting a fire and then not fanning the flames. Follow-up actions ensure the employee’s next steps are stoked into a steady flame. They validate that the feedback shared wasn’t just a quick opinion or thought but a genuine investment in the individual’s progression – something they can build on.


Following up post-feedback isn’t just a basic step. It’s a statement. By ensuring that feedback isn’t just heard but acted upon, you build stronger, more resilient relationships rooted in trust and mutual respect.



Encouragement of an Ongoing Feedback Culture and Its Long-Term Benefits:

An ongoing feedback culture is the cornerstone of sustained professional growth. It ensures that feedback isn’t a one-off event but an integral part of the professional journey. The long-term benefits are tenfold – from a more engaged workforce and increased productivity to building a culture of openness and mutual respect in the workplace. This culture promotes idea sharing, leading to innovative solutions and enhanced team productivity.



Wrap-Up on Constructive Feedback

We’ve often observed that the best managers don’t just provide feedback; they master the art of its delivery. It’s not just about what’s said but how it’s communicated. Just as the intricate balance of words and tone can make a piece of writing resonate with someone, the same holds true for constructive feedback. The right words, delivered with empathy and clarity, can inspire, motivate, and ignite a passion for improvement and engagement. Feedback is more than just a managerial trick; it’s a commitment to the growth of your team. By mastering delivery, ensuring a healthy environment, and emphasizing the importance of follow-ups, managers can truly leverage the power of constructive feedback.


Next up in our series is a look at how to manage conflict within a team!

Check Out The Entire Team Leadership Series

Sivan Kaspi Sivan is the Director of Marketing at Spike. A firm believer that the right kind of tech actually helps us use it less, she is passionate about tools that improve our lives. She starts off each morning reviewing her Spike feed over a good cup of coffee.

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