Timely and constructive feedback allows the person delivering the feedback to provide it in a less formal setting focusing on one issue at a time, that is specific and easily recallable vs. annual reviews, that are frequently much less specific and often only recent activities are recalled. Regular constructive feedback allows the recipient to respond, adjust, and improve in a timely fashion.
Example of timely constructive feedback:
“Joe, last week when we were in the breakroom, I heard you telling inappropriate jokes. I noticed the color drain from Tracy’s face and many looks of concern as the group quickly disbanded. As a rule of thumb, if you are about to tell a joke that you wouldn’t tell in front of your young niece, don’t say it in the office. Let’s focus on eliminating these from office conversation, find other topics for breakroom discussion, and revisit as needed…”
Example of non-timely feedback:
“Joe, I always look forward to annual reviews. I see them as a great opportunity for us to talk through issues that have been going on for the past year. For example, there have been several times throughout the year that I have overheard you telling inappropriate jokes in the office. Those need to stop…”
The Advantages of Timely, Consistent & Constructive Feedback:
- Timely feedback provides feedback while the event/issue is fresh in both the recipient’s and provider’s mind.
- Feedback should be constructive, specific, factual and end with an action item.
- Constructive feedback should not be simply a negative criticism; but an identification of a valid issue with a recommendation/suggestion to modify behavior.
- Critical and constructive feedback should not be heard for the first time in an annual review – these should not hold any surprises.
- Timely feedback should be provided behind closed doors, not in public or amongst peers.
- If feedback is given regularly anxiety of “big, annual reviews” goes away and both parties can move on to an open and consistent dialogue.
- Timely feedback allows the recipient time to course-correct/make strides in the right direction throughout the year, thus demonstrating a faster shift to desired outcomes for the organization.
Depending on the severity of the feedback, be sure to listen to what the recipient has to say. If necessary, allow a break and re-visit in a day or two or even a week later to provide time for the recipient to digest and respond thoughtfully.