Let’s say you are having a feedback session with one of your employees-let’s call him John. The feedback is based on his behavior patterns in the office – you’re not happy. He’s spending too much company time planning his wedding, and isn’t paying attention to his work. Personal phone calls, constant tardiness, and same mistakes over and over again – it’s bad. You tell him he leaves the office early too often, and he nods and accepts. Time passes and you see no change in John’s behavior even though he did agree to change. Was your message not clear enough?
There are three different kinds of feedback that can make or break an employee’s understanding of what he or she is doing wrong.
1. Destructive feedback.
Here’s where you criticize John, and that’s it. No comments, no chitchat. As a rule of thumb, you do not want give feedback this way if you want to keep your employees happy.
2. Constructive feedback.
This is the way to tell your employee he has to change, and it´s considered the nicest way to do it. Stating with what John does best is a good starting point because you start the conversation by focusing on what he already does well. In addition, as a part of the constructive feedback, you will also have to make room for his comments and thoughts, to make him feel heard, too. However, even though this may seem like the most effective way to relate to an employee, it´s not always the best way. Human beings are constructed in a way that makes us remember the negative comments rather than the positive. The negative comment will be more likely remembered, even though it might not correspond with the employee´s understanding of the case.
3. Deconstructive feedback.
There´s a new kid in town and many haven’t heard about her yet. Deconstructive feedback is the most democratic way to talk with your employees. This very secret way of giving feedback forces out the hierarchy between you and the employee. It’s time for some dialogue. The term “deconstructive” means taking something apart. Like when you are deconstructing a poem to analyze what is the actual meaning, you are doing the same here.
First, tell your employee what the problem is. Be sure to make it specific, so there won’t be any doubt. Remember that you both have a stake in the company. Building a safe framework will make it easier for him to open up. And second, give him room to answer back. Don´t interrupt while he speaks, but if there is something you don´t understand, ask him. This is what deconstruction is – that you, together, search for the best possible outcome. When you get to the core of the problem, it’ll be easier to solve. The employee might even have a good solution to the problem himself.