Constructive feedback is the way to help people grow

Constructive feedback is the way to help people grow

Feedback has long been the topic of discussion in organisations. Most would agree that while it might demotivate some people when they receive feedback, it can certainly help many people grow. I have personally emphasised the importance of giving and receiving feedback numerous times in the hope of seeing more people actually doing it.

The fact is, if you are sincerely interested in becoming a good manager or a good boss, providing regular and constructive feedback to your employees is one of the most crucial managerial tasks. If you can master it, there is a good chance that everything else will fall into place.

Increasingly in organisations, there is a trend toward regular feedback as opposed to annual feedback. This is true particularly for the millennial workforce, which is becoming the largest proportion of the total workforce. These younger workers require constant feedback, and so companies are reinventing performance management because annual feedback is not cutting it any more.

Since these younger employees are digital natives and extremely tech-savvy because they were raised on the internet and social media, they are accustomed to ongoing and often instant feedback. However, I find constant feedback not only beneficial for the younger workforce. All employees should be able to improve their performance and reduce their shortcomings faster if we provide them with instant feedback. After all, what’s the point of bringing up a shortfall or a win from July when you are reviewing a person in December? Now you can see my point.

Given all these supporting reasons, this article is intended to give you a few simple guidelines to start giving constructive feedback today to help your people grow and your organisation to win in this highly competitive market.

The simple technique I’d like to recommend to you is called “FIFAB”, which stands for Fact, Impact, Feeling, Action and Benefit.

First, when giving feedback, always start with stating the facts and all the information related to a person’s past performance or behaviour. This will give them enough context to begin with and make it easier for them to follow through.

Here, it is critical to let them know that you are giving constructive feedback, which literally means constructing some meaningful and useful information for that person. It’s not about pointing fingers and telling them that what they did was right or wrong, but about helping them to do better next time.

Next, tell them about the impact if such action or behaviour is to be repeated. Make sure to tell them not only the impact at the individual level but at the higher level, departmental or organisational, to help them see the bigger picture.

Then, it is time to tell them how you feel about this particular action. Telling them a story about your feeling is intended to target the emotional brain, but don’t make it sound like you are criticising them or their survival brain will take over and want to act instead.

The fourth step is to tell them the recommended actions that you perceive would be helpful and would make their performance better. This is because giving feedback without proposing solutions can be perceived as negative criticism. In fact, you need to be specific. Say something specific and positive related to the task you want accomplished — such as, “I know you’re smart so I want to hear at least one opinion from you in every meeting going forward” — instead of just saying “I expect you to be more talkative in meetings.”

Lastly, make sure to tell them the benefits they will be able to reap once they’re able to do as you’ve suggested or recommended. Again, tell them about the at both the individual and organisational levels, just as you did when you discussed the impact of their behaviour.

I want to stress that this technique works only on condition that you focus on someone’s behaviour, not on him or her as a person. When people hear a sentence like “Can I give you some feedback?”, it will immediately trigger the survival brain and it can be perceived that the person giving the feedback is somehow superior to the person receiving it. This puts the recipient on the defensive and into fight-or-flight mode.

With that in mind, let’s start helping all our people grow further today with constructive feedback, shall we?


Arinya Talerngsri is Group Managing Director at APMGroup, Thailand’s leading Organisation and People Development Consultancy. She can be reached by e-mail at or

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