Carolyn B. Thompson
Training Systems, Inc.
12 Landscape Lane
Camdenton MO 65020
Constructive Feedback Is Good!
By: Carolyn B. Thompson & Steve Sligar
Some people have a bad taste in their mouth about feedback. There's a fine
line between constructive feedback and negative criticism. The difference
is pinpointing. Negative criticism occurs when you don't describe the
situation factually or specifically enough so that the person can make
changes and meet expectations.
Constructive feedback is good for the employee, and it's good for you.
Like other skills, it improves with practice. Why do
it? For problems that need to be resolved and situations that need to be
improved. When do you do it? As quickly as possible. Who does it? Whoever
is experiencing a problem. Who is it for? It's for the person or the
employee who needs to improve.
The questions is, how do you do it? Well, there are
First, you have to plan ahead.
Second, you have to behave assertively.
Third, it must be done privately with the employee.
You need to focus on the behavior, and to do that you use a technique
called pinpointing. Pinpointing is very critical. Without it, you'll fail.
Pinpointing is describing the specific, factual behavior you want. Maybe a
couple of examples would be helpful: You're talking to the employee and
you say "You left work 30 minutes before the end of shift yesterday."
Another example, "You submitted the last three months' worth of reports
without completing the financial section." Or, "At yesterday's round table
meeting, you sighed heavily and loudly, looked at your watch and closed
your notepad five minutes before the director was finished speaking."
With pinpointing, you go from the general to the specific. Look at the
three examples. In the first one, the generality could be that the
employee is not dependable. Pinpoint, listing the behaviors specifically:
"You left 30 minutes early."
In the second example, this could be an employee you felt did sloppy work,
but saying that doesn't give the employee the information they need to
improve their behavior. Pinpoint: "The report was not complete."
In the third example, most of us would think the employee had a bad
attitude. By pinpointing, you list the specific behavior, looking at the
watch and closing the notepad. Pinpointing begins the constructive
feedback by identifying problems, not causing defensiveness with opinions
Gathering information is the next step. Followed by agreeing on what the
problem is and the action needed to solve the problem.
Follow these steps to giving constructive feedback and you'll get less
defensive employees who are willing and able to meet expectations.
Carolyn B. Thompson is the President of Training
a customized training & HR consulting company that helps small and
medium sized organizations enhance their ability to recruit, inspire, and
retain quality employees and improve performance through training. Training
Systems, Inc. also provides
training design and delivery services to training companies and the
training departments of large companies, and professional and trade
organizations. Carolyn is an exciting, experienced, and inspirational
trainer who leads people to learn, and a knowledgeable consultant in the
employee recruitment, inspiration, and retention. Carolyn’s produced a
two-tape audio tape set based on her radio show, Straight Talk for
Employers; the worksheet, Ten Steps to Determining the Return on
Your Training Investment; written & published the book, Creating
Highly Interactive Training Quickly & Effectively, and written Interviewing
Techniques for Managers and The Leadership Genius of George W. Bush.
She’s written articles for prominent magazines, been interviewed for
Chicago’s TV Channel 26, the ‘You’re Hired’ radio show, and
written chapters in several books. Carolyn is also the editor of the
monthly publication, Recruit, Inspire and Retain.
Steve Sligar is a training associate with Training
Systems, Inc. Steve is
a dynamic, humorous facilitator who really gets people involved. He's
currently Director of Community Services for The Center for Sight &
Hearing Impaired and has served as a private consultant to schools and
rehabilitation centers, as well as being instrumental in starting and
developing programs from "scratch" in both the public and private sectors
which offered comprehensive services including vocational assessment, job
readiness training and placement, community based living and a high
technology program with a rehabilitation engineering component.
(c) Training Systems, Inc. 1999