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How To Create Constructive Feedback That Motivates Your Team

Incorporating positive feedback into your management style is one of the easiest ways that you can help inspire your team to do the best work possible. Alongside ensuring that your team remains motivated, the act of giving proper feedback will help guide your employees towards being more efficient.

The Hugo Team
The Hugo Team
The team transforming meeting productivity
How To Create Constructive Feedback That Motivates Your Team

Incorporating positive feedback into your management style is one of the easiest ways that you can help inspire your team to do the best work possible. Alongside ensuring that your team remains motivated, the act of giving proper feedback will help guide your employees towards being more efficient when at work.

Especially if you’re a new manager, learning how to boost employee morale through actionable advice based on feedback is a great skill you can hone while doing this. Going beyond just performance reviews, you’ll be able to give personal feedback in weekly 1-1 meetings with your employees.

Even when compared directly to positive reinforcement for good work, a helping hand that guides an employee back onto a corrective path is preferred by 57% of employees, further demonstrating the need for constructive feedback.

The Stats Behind Positive Feedback

Skirting past anecdotal ideas, there is a range of studies that directly demonstrate the importance of constructive feedback when it comes to keeping workplaces motivated.

There are several central reasons that positive feedback is so vital in the workplace. We’ll be touching on two of them.

  • More engagement at work
  • Decrease in turnover

Let’s break these down further.

More Engagement at Work

There is a direct relation between the amount of honest feedback that an employee receives and how engaged that particular employee is at work. Leaders that are in the top 10% of managers in continually giving positive feedback to their team receive engagement rates of around 77%.

This may not seem particularly high, but when compared to the bottom 10% of leaders, which only have a 25% engagement rate within their teams, the difference suddenly becomes astounding.

Not only does effective employee feedback boost motivation, but it ensures that every part of the team feels valued and supported in their role, helping everyone to perform their best.


Decrease in Turnover

Employee turnover is a natural part of running any business. Some people find new opportunities that help with their career growth, some retire, and some simply decide that the company isn’t right for them. Yet, despite all other reasons that an employee may have to move on from your company, feedback could actually be the most important.

Effective feedback, which should always be an opportunity to exchange feedback both ways between a manager and an employee, allows employees to give their ideas back to management and actively form a better company. Alongside this, receiving feedback on their work helps them to directly refine their skills.

With opportunities for feedback that goes both ways, employees feel significantly more valued. In fact, employees that have regular feedback meetings have a 14.9% lower turnover than team members that don’t. Due to this, one of the most effective ways that you can keep the talent you’re training within your team is to ensure that communication lines are always open, reinforcing feedback exchanges and helping them to feel heard.

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Is there a place for negative feedback in the workplace?

Constructive feedback is often misconstrued as negative feedback. The core differences between these two styles of feedback are constructive aims to help someone get better at their job, while negative feedback is actively putting someone down by saying they’re bad at something.

Note the difference between these two examples:

  • ‍I notice that you’re always late for work. You’re holding up the team.
  • I was recently catching up on progress reports and have to say I’m really impressed with your work so far this quarter. If you were able to get to work 5/10 minutes earlier than you currently do, you’d be able to increase your output even more. Thanks for all your hard work.

Obviously, length is a key difference that jumps out. However, going beyond this, all the words that surround this core idea of being late are there to make the blow less impactful. Instead of directly saying someone is doing something wrong, try and guide them to the correct conclusion.

At the end of your discussion, you can directly deliver constructive feedback, making sure that they’ve got the message of what you’re trying to say.

Who should be giving employee feedback?

One mistake that managers make when giving feedback is that they open these moments up to team meetings. While this can be an effective way of discussing and can end up with a positive outcome, it also opens up the discussion to personal attacks and accidentally making employees feel bad about their work.

To communicate effectively, you should always ensure to keep your feedback sessions between manager and employee on a strictly one-on-one meeting basis. Within the more private sphere, other team members won’t be around to overhear, ensuring that employees feel supported and not embarrassed by their individual feedback.

While feedback can improve performance, a more public forum for sharing feedback can have the reverse effect, dampening team morale and creating awkward peer-to-peer conversations. Always be sure to share feedback in the most private way that you can.

How To Form Constructive Feedback

There is a thin line between giving constructive feedback and offending or criticizing someone’s work.

There are four key parts to forming constructive feedback:

  • State an observation
  • Pinpoint area for improvement
  • Understand their concerns through questions

Let’s break these down further.

State and Observation

Instead of diving right into constructive feedback, you need to first lay down a pathway to get there. The easiest way of opening up a positive feedback comment is to start with an observation. This can either be a comment that’s related to what you want to say or an anecdote about their work over the past few months.

For example, you can state something like: "When taking a look at the numbers for this past month, I’ve noticed that you’ve fallen slightly behind the rest of the team."

While this doesn’t come out and directly say “please speed up,” it insinuates the direction that the conversation is going, allowing you to move seamlessly into other areas.

Pinpoint Area for Improvement

After moving through your observation, you’ll be able to then pinpoint a specific skill or ability that lies behind what you’ve noticed. Reusing the above example, you could follow by saying something like.

If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed at work, please let me know, and we can work together to figure something out. That said, one thing that’s really helped my own time management skills is focusing on time blocking out my days. I’ll send you some resources as I think they could help you out with recuperating some of your past speed and streamlining your work day.

Giving feedback in this form highlights the area of Time Management while also providing them a solution that can guide them along the way.

Understand Their Concerns Through Questions

After you’ve outlined the first two places, a core part of constructive feedback is ensuring that the employee has time to ask you questions, respond, or explain their behavior. This section of giving feedback should be more of a conversation, allowing you to instantly help them and clarify any doubts they have.

In this section, if you think they have received feedback well, you can then open up the floor and ask if they have any feedback for your own management style. This two-way street ensures that everyone leaves the room with a positive attitude about how the meeting went.

Constructive Feedback Examples

To start you off on the right track, let’s outline three constructive feedback examples based on certain employee skills.

  • Not a Team Player - I can especially relate to wanting to take things into your own hands and get them done in your own way. While there is definitely a right place for that, this team project isn’t quite the right fit. In the future, I want to focus on your communication skills with the team, ensuring that we’re all on the same page and that no one is left behind. Would you be able to lead a few morning meetings each week, making the most of your leadership skills but still keeping us up to date with decisions?
  • Doesn’t Communicate - I’ve always been very impressed with your written reports, hitting all the key points and showing you can make informed decisions with ease. But, in meetings, I’ve noticed you don’t speak up too frequently. Is there anything I can do to make it easier for you to share your ideas and make your voice heard?
  • Missed Goals - During your time with our team, you’ve carried out some amazing project results. Recently, you’ve missed a few key deadlines on different projects. To ensure you keep that same high-quality work, we’d love if you narrowed your focus to ensure you hit it out of the park every time. Which projects are you enjoying most currently?

These positive feedback examples will point your employees on the right path towards correction. Based on the specific examples you want to work on, you’ll be able to adapt the template we’ve outlined for you.

Final Thoughts

When giving constructive feedback, one of the central tips you should take on board is to always have the best intentions at heart. If you earnestly are trying to help an employee improve through constructive feedback, they will (hopefully) get the message.

These feedback conversations are an invaluable opportunity for both employees and managers to stay on the right path to success.

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