Giving honest, raw and constructive feedback

In relationships with other people, especially those closest to us, we often encounter situations where their words seem hurtful. Honesty that is perceived as unfair and harsh can be difficult to accept and is therefore automatically rejected. However, only people who know the other person well and care about his or her wellbeing are able to make comments that are difficult to hear but necessary for his or her development. Provided, of course, that they do so with empathy, respect, reverence and sincerity.

While the words of loved ones (including those in the workplace) can be difficult to digest, there is often a deep concern and desire behind them, to see the other person succeed.

Honesty and toughness as expressions of care

According to a Gallup survey, only 26% of employees believe that the feedback they receive helps them to do a better job. In my experience, In my experience, this is because appraisals and development discussions often lack the ‘tough’ content that would be helpful for their development.

Research from the Harvard Business Review supports this. They report that while 72% of employees consider leaders providing critical feedback to be important for their development, only 5% of them believe that their managers actually share such feedback with them.

constructive feedback

Employees whose leaders fail to provide feedback show a decline in engagement. Meanwhile, managers who are good at giving constructive feedback create teams that are in the top 23% for engagement.

Additionally, a McKinsey study of 12,000 managers showed that ‘honest and in-depth feedback’ is important for professional development.

However, it is important to remember that even tough and constructive feedback is only effective if it is based on genuine concern and support. Confirmation of this can be found in a study of coaches, which found that those who combined challenge with autonomy, close relationships and a positive atmosphere in their teams performed better than those who took a cold, militaristic approach to collaboration. The study shows that harshness can only be effective if it is an expression of caring rather than a punishment for someone’s behaviour.

Feedback – frequency makes all the difference

In a professional context, the regular provision of constructive feedback strengthens the relationship between managers and employees, which has a direct impact on morale and job satisfaction. Managers who receive constructive feedback on their strengths generate 8.9% higher organisational profitability than those who do not.

Employees whose supervisors gave them constructive feedback in the past week were four times more engaged in their work.

constructive feedback

In addition, companies where they work have 14.9% less turnover than those where teams do not receive feedback. In addition, those who receive daily feedback are three times more engaged in their work than those who receive it once a year.

Also worth mentioning is a survey conducted by Zenger and Folkman, which found that up to 92% of employees believe that constructive criticism is effective in improving their performance.

In addition, according to Zippia, 85% of employees say that feedback at work encourages them to be more proactive, and 73% say it makes them better colleagues.

Constructive feedback protects against mistakes

In a survey conducted by Zenger Folkman, a company specialising in leadership training, 44% of the more than 7,000 managers questioned admitted that they find it difficult to give feedback to their team members and 21% do not give feedback at all. This was largely because they found it too stressful.

There is no denying that people who are prepared to tell another person difficult truths do so at the risk of rejection. However, what enables them to step out of their comfort zone is the belief that by doing so they are protecting the other person from long-term mistakes. Being open to such constructive, albeit painful, feedback can contribute to the recipient’s further growth and development.

This approach is also very important in our everyday family life.

It turns out that children raised in a culture of discipline and feedback experience a 50% reduction in problematic behaviour. Teenagers with strict (honest) parents are 30% less likely to abuse substances and 74% have better decision-making skills.

Giving feedback

Also in the business context, constructive feedback not only plays a key role at individual and team level, but also shapes the overall culture of an organisation. By encouraging continuous improvement, feedback becomes a driver of development and can lead to operational excellence. Organisations that prioritise learning and development through the effective use of feedback foster a mindset focused on continually seeking and implementing better solutions. This, in turn, contributes to a reduction in operational errors as employees and managers learn to continuously improve their working methods and avoid repeating mistakes. However, for this to happen, managers and other team members need to be open to giving and receiving critical but constructive feedback.

According to a study by HBR indicates that up to 57% of employees prefer receiving constructive feedback to praise.

Busting Myths about Feedback, published by the Center for Creative Leadership, found that respondents would like to receive less positive feedback (65% vs. 77% received) and more negative feedback (35% vs. 23% received).

A key aspect of providing feedback is its timeliness and accuracy. Constructive feedback should be given as soon as possible after a situation has been observed. This will make the reference points much more accurate and timely. It is also a good idea to use relevant examples, avoid generalisations and give a thorough explanation of what changes are expected of us. This will help avoid misunderstandings and allow the other person to understand exactly what is expected of us.

For more tips on how to work with feedback, listen to Maciek Pawłowski’s podcast, which I highly recommend.


Well-executed feedback is a powerful development tool. It can also significantly improve the performance and effectiveness of our own and other team members. Unlike criticism, which focuses on mistakes and negativity, feedback offers opportunities for improvement and learning.

Although receiving or giving constructive feedback can be difficult, it is worth remembering that it often comes from a place of concern and a desire to see the other person succeed. Being open to constructive feedback from and for people we really know can lead to meaningful personal and professional growth together. It is important to understand the intent behind the words and to appreciate the care that motivates these statements. Only then can we realise the full potential of this type of feedback.

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