Feedback is one of the most vital stepping stones of our journey to success. Yet, in our minds, the word “feedback” often carries a negative connotation. The reason is because most of our experiences with it focus around criticism rather than positive, reinforcing feedback and what/how we could do better.

Business owners understand the power of feedback, but they always make sure that the delivery of feedback is constructive. They also strike a great balance between providing positive reinforcement and constructive feedback.  It is essential to ensure that your employees know how valuable they are and how the extraordinary work they are doing impacts the company’s success.

As far as constructive feedback goes, most employees will appreciate you taking time to deliver thoughtful and honest feedback, even if it’s not the feedback they want to hear. But here are several important things to remember if you want your employees to take you seriously and act upon your feedback:

Be honest. Whether positive or negative, feedback must be honest. You can’t sugarcoat it: “What you’ve done is fantastic, but…” You must drop the “buts”! Be considerate in your delivery, but don’t embellish. Make your suggestions relevant to them by providing examples, as well as lessons from your own experience.

Be credible. If you want the feedback to be sincere and for your employees to listen to you, you have to spend time in understanding what they do and how they feel about their work.  Take time to observe them while they work.  Try to listen and understand their viewpoint on what they do and how they do it. Don’t be the new guy barging in and trying to drive change without knowing and appreciating the work of your people. Invest time building the rapport and putting in the sweat if you want your employees to respond to your direction and to your feedback in a meaningful way.

Lead by example first. You must walk the talk. You have to be able to lead your people by example. If you recognize that the area you are correcting them in is also an area you are deficient in, clarify that up front. Be clear about what you want done and why you want it done. Be sure to draw a clear picture to help them understand your expectations for the job. And be transparent. People appreciate honesty.

Care. Here is the important part: they need to know that as a leader, you truly care. People know when you are playing smoke and mirrors. If they know you are not genuinely concerned about their growth, they’ll tune out.

Have you already been applying these principles in your work? What results have you seen?

PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.

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