How many times have you heard – here’s a little constructive criticism. Few welcome the opportunity to be criticized. Truth be told, no one should want to criticize, either. It seldom makes for a better relationship or environment. It’s time to emphasis feedback rather than criticism.

Even giving and receiving feedback can cause a case of sweaty hands and pounding heart. The goal is to give feedback that helps – not hurts. Good leadership requires, well, leadership. Often, it includes the necessity for difficult conversations. Using the proper words and tone is imperative to making the feedback productive. The goal is to change behavior to an acceptable form and help the employee achieve the best success.

Employ these 5 keys to make the feedback session productive and for the overall betterment of individual and the group.

  1. Preparation is vital.

The goal is to modify behavior. To effectively do so, you should prepare your thoughts and notes ahead of the meeting. Working with a bullet point list is helpful in keeping the meeting on track. Employee consultations should be documented for the file. If behavior doesn’t improve, these notes will prove valuable collateral in the decisions you must make as leader. It gives a specific record of the meeting and outlines the meeting content.

  1. Own your message and be clear with it.

Focus the message on “I” instead of “you”. Doing so keeps defensiveness at bay and the message palatable. Instead of “You have been late every day this week”, say, “I have noticed you have been late several times this week.” Have a good follow up statement, such as “It is imperative every member of the team is here at the appointed time.”  As in all conversations, keep professionalism at the forefront. Be fair; expectations should apply to everyone.

  1. Be specific.

Focus on the unacceptable behavior not personality or attitude. While behavior can be changed, personality traits are less likely to be modifiable. Although in the case of attitude, a conversation about the impact of their disposition could make a difference. Be specific about the undesirable behavior during the feedback session and make clear the impact of their actions. For example, “Since I did not get a response from you, I wasn’t able to…”

  1. Match verbal and nonverbal.

Corrective conversation should not be coupled with a smile or other conflicting nonverbal action. Show the importance and seriousness of the situation by focusing solely on the person, avoiding distracting behavior such as glancing at your phone or emails.  Body language speaks volumes. Use techniques, such as face the person when speaking and look in their eyes. Doing so lets them know you are present and open to dialogue. Beware of hand gestures that could be mistook.

  1. Don’t apologize for giving feedback.

Your role as leader puts you in the position to help or hurt the person and situation. Feedback is a necessary part of the leadership process – whether personal or professional. You have been put in the position to help your team improve and succeed.  Stay clear of prefaces, such as “maybe it’s me” or “I feel like”. Those disclaimers that can diminish the message.

Leaving the meeting on a positive note is of utmost importance. Point out actions that yielded positive results.  Expect the corrective measures to be made and point out positive actions will produce positive results. If the meeting is concluding otherwise, on a sour note, consider arranging a time to reconvene to review progress.  The goal is to maximize success for the team member, team and company.

What situations are you dealing? How can these points help manage the situation?