The Importance of Feedback and Discipline

An important part of business communication is giving feedback, correction and discipline to your staff.

How You Can Be More Effective in Giving Feedback to Your Staff

An important part of business communication is giving feedback, correction and discipline to your staff. One of the jobs of the manager is to be a teacher, and in some cases a disciplinarian. This means that, in order to do your job properly, and in order to develop your staff to make their highest potential contribution to the organization, you must give them regular feedback on what they are doing right and where they can improve.

Constructive Criticism

Most people are very tense about giving discipline or what is often called, “constructive criticism.” However you can make it a low stress occasion by focusing on the behavior and the performance rather than on the person. This requires that you report what you see, rather than what you feel, or your interpretation of events.

Focus on the Behavior

For example, a person comes back from a luncheon two hours late. Instead of getting angry with the person, you could say, “I see that you took more than two hours for lunch today. This causes some disruption in the office because of the work that doesn’t get done. Is there a reason for this long lunch?”

In other words, what you are doing is reporting on the individual’s behavior and leaving the door open for a variety of interpretations or explanations. The individual may have had a car accident or a medical appointment, or a family emergency.

Thinking about the Future

One of the best ways to deal with poor performance is to focus on the future over the past. Instead of becoming angry over what has already happened, or not happened, you should explain clearly to the individual what you want to see done differently. Get an agreement from the individual that the job will be done differently in the future. Agree to meet on a regular basis to review progress.

Build Self-Esteem

Always end a disciplinary interview with an expression of faith and confidence in the individual. Always do everything possible to preserve the individual’s self-esteem and self-image. End the conversation with a positive statement that causes the person to go back to work feeling better about himself or herself.

Aim for Improved Performance

Remember, the only purpose of a session of constructive criticism is to improve performance. If you lose sight of that and instead you attack or criticize the other person, his or her performance will not improve. In fact, if you criticize a person too often, the individual will stop doing that job altogether. Their performance will deteriorate and they will become less and less willing to contribute to the goals of the company.

Action Exercises

First, always criticize or correct a person in private. When someone has made a mistake or done a poor job, arrange to see them alone, explain your concerns and ask for their explanation – before you say anything.

Second, no matter what has happened, always focus on the future over the past. Focus on what can be done now rather than what has already happened. Focus on what the person should do next time rather than the mistake that has already been made.

About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.

  • Edson

    I think one should take into account also the position of the one being criticized. Many people make thoughtless mistakes out of sheer carelessness, not caring about the consequences that can harm other people.
    A quote that I really like is:

    “Correct an intelligent person and you become wiser.
    Correct an ignorant person and you will gain an enemy. “

  • Andre

    It’s a shame to see that many managers fail to give a structured feedback and, instead, just criticize without any real value.

  • Pingback: The Keys to Constructive Criticism: Part 1 | Brian Tracy's Blog()

  • Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Brian,

    Building self-esteem while offering advice is a vital art to master if you desire to be a leader.

    Few people enjoy being corrected but if done properly – with an eye on the future, as you note – criticism benefits both parties. Your communication skills improve while your co-worker learns a valuable lesson.

    Thanks for sharing and have a powerful day!


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