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How to Give Productive Feedback

The ability to give and receive productive feedback is essential skill for entrepreneurs. The existing necessity for entrepreneurs to be able to take positive and negative feedback not just from the investors and customers, but from the team members and the employees as well makes it even more important subject for startup owners. This is one of the key elements of the flexible and open-minded startup culture, built by visionary leaders, who understand the importance of feedback for the future growth of the company.

Receiving feedback can be difficult and challenging. Often entrepreneurs hear not so great things about their products, customer service or their personal business approaches. But, as far as the leadership mindset is on the top of the business vision of the company, there is no need to worry. Visionary entrepreneurs actually appreciate negative feedback better than the positive feedback, because it gives them the chance to see what they are missing, what can be improved and actually to get to know what their customers need.

Receiving feedback from the team members is a little bit different and many entrepreneurs forget the importance of it. Being able to hear what your employees have to say is one of the first steps to eliminating micromanaging and starting to delegate and encourage the intrapreneurship at your startup.

Be specific

Always be specific when you give feedback in order to avoid confusion and mislead the person you are talking to. Make sure that you say the things you have to say clearly and emphasize on the particular part of the work that needs more attention. People are more likely to positively respond to feedback if they have it specifically pointed out so they can analyze the problematic part better.

Suggest, don’t demand

Make sure that your feedback is well-understood from the person receiving it. Make your suggestion and argument yourself, but always let the person explain why they have made the specific decision. May be you, as an “outside project person”, have missed something important and your feedback actually is not really constructive. As a leader, you should be able to suggest your ideas for the better outcomes, but to be able to hear the other person as well and admit if you were wrong.

Timing is important

When you give feedback make sure that you keep it in specific timeline. Being late with giving feedback can basically send the wrong message that says: I was not happy with your work for long time and now I’ve decided to share it with you. No employee will be happy to hear a something like this. So, make sure that you share your opinion in regular basis and emphasize on the importance of immediate feedback.

Deliver the information carefully

Make sure that you give the feedback in the appropriate environment without to put all the attention on the work of the employee when there is no need for that. Receiving feedback can be stressful and if you decide to send yours via e-mail, it can be accepted as a criticism or less important and your otherwise constructive message can be overlooked.

Suggest further action

You can always give feedback to your employees and team members by encouraging them to keep their good work but with a slight suggestion how they can actually improve their performance. Offer your comment by sharing why you think it will help, but still appreciate the opinion of your employee.

Bonus: Include Giving feedback in your startup’s culture

Make it known that receiving and giving feedback is something important for the work process and is essential for the startup growth. Your team members must know that receiving feedback is actually something really good. This will make them understand that nobody has something personal against them if they decide to share personal opinion about their work.

─ January 28, 2015