At organizations that boast strong culture, there’s an expectation that employees care about their work and their co-workers, and interactions with others are mostly positive.

Sometimes this can backfire — managers are afraid to give critical feedback for fear it will detract from their positive relationships. Of course, “constructive” feedback is welcome, but most managers don’t truly know the difference between feedback that points out a flaw, and feedback that empowers an employee to do their best work. Constructive feedback doesn’t have to feel critical, in fact, it shouldn’t.

Constructive feedback is not about shaming people — it can be direct and compassionate. Click To Tweet

The biggest mistake managers make is saving this type of feedback for a formal meeting (even sandwiching it between a few half-baked compliments). Constructive feedback should be given in real-time, and if it helps, I like that Jonathan Raymond, a leadership coach and author, calls it an “observation,” not feedback.

Employees want to know the highest value they can add at their company.

Employees want to know the highest value they can add at their company — it helps them prioritize. Managers should know this, and be able to intervene when it’s not happening. This is a constructive, but still positive, interaction.

In the same vein, top performers get frustrated when accountability is inconsistent throughout the organization. They want everyone to be held to the same standard. If you see your star performers leaving, it may be because they are waiting for leadership to take action.

Constructive feedback is not about shaming people or being punitive — it can be direct and compassionate.

In our recent webinar, “The 30-Second Manager: Driving Growth With Short, Real-Time Observations,” Jonathan Raymond shared three scenarios where managers can make an immediate improvement in their feedback by reframing to be more constructive. You can now watch the webinar on-demand.