Most employees strive to work hard for their employers. They understand that job performance and productivity can be crucial for competitive pay packages and being considered for promotions.

As an employer, you might know your workers are doing their best, but that doesn’t mean you don’t see room for improvement. In such cases, tact is essential for delivering critical feedback that gets the message across but leaves employees feeling like you see their worth and wants them to succeed.

The following steps should help you deliver this style of feedback:

Back It Up With Facts

Some employees don’t know they could be doing better and might even push back against the idea that they have room for improvement. So, it’s crucial to back up your statements and feedback with facts.

For example, if an employee is consistently late to work, provide the data from your Fingertec biometric time clock or time-tracking software to prove that what you’re saying is accurate. If they’re not producing the same output as other employees, tactfully walk them through reports comparing their output to the benchmarks you’ve set for their role.

When they see objective, measurable evidence supporting your feedback, they might be more inclined to make changes in line with your expectations.

Ask for Permission

Not all employees will take kindly to having their manager appear at their desks, telling them they aren’t doing a particular task in the most efficient way. Show tact by asking for permission to provide feedback.

Phrases like, ‘Can I offer a suggestion for this task?’ and ‘May I offer an alternative workaround?’ can be much more tactful and less aggressive than ‘You need to do this task this way.’ You might also find that your employees are much more open to the idea of change when you approach it with respect.

Avoid the Feedback Sandwich

The ‘feedback sandwich’ approach to delivering critical feedback has been touted as an effective strategy for communicating with employees who take criticism to heart. It involves starting with positive feedback, inserting critical or negative feedback, and ending with more positive feedback.

While it’s tempting to use this approach to ‘soften the blow,’ it can distract employees from the main point of your discussion. You also might feel like you have to wait until you have two positive statements to make until you bring up something they need to work on. Instead, provide positive and negative feedback as it becomes relevant.

Don’t Wait Until You Have a List

Managers who regularly conduct performance reviews often compile a list of changes they want employees to make, and they save this list for the scheduled one-on-one meetings. While this approach can save you time, your employee might feel like they’re a hopeless case if they’re hit with a list of problems to address.

Instead, combat concerns as they arise, and record the changes you notice once you’ve communicated them. You can then use performance reviews to talk about their improvements and whether they’re on the right track.

Ask for Feedback

If you’re delivering feedback, it’s only fair that you should ask for some in return. Employees sometimes have sound reasons for performing tasks in a specific way, and your feedback might become irrelevant. After providing criticism, ask your employee whether they believe your statements are fair or if they have anything they’d like to add.

Critical feedback can be uncomfortable, especially when you don’t like hurting your employees’ feelings. However, there are ways to deliver it in a positive way that benefits both you and your team. Try the techniques above, and you might be surprised by their effectiveness.