Dan Erwin on the Slacker Manager blog wrote about How to Give Effective Feedback.

Here are three simple rules for giving effective feedback that Dan Gave:

  1. Don’t blame.  Dwelling on the past is a waste of time – and harmful.  There’s an important principle that you might have learned in elementary psych:  Reinforced responses recur.  So if you keep talking about a failure, that failure may very well recur because you’re rewarding it by talking about it.  Weird, eh!  But that’s how the brain works. The other principle is that performance ignored tends to disappear.  Pay little to no attention to past failures.  Enough said? 
  2. What’s going well?  Get your employee’s insight into what’s going well on his projects.  Don’t misunderstand me here.  I’m not suggesting that you do this to make a person feel good before you shoot them.  Find out what they’re doing and what made it successful.  Then the same lessons can apply in the future.  Guess what!  It’ll take time to learn to look for what’s going well.  We’re just not programmed that way.  But don’t even go down the next road before you’ve worked over what’s going well and why.
  3. What needs to go better? Don’t be in a hurry to answer that question for your team member.  But use my exact words otherwise one of you will be liable to veer of into the usual s–t.  Dig the answer out of her if possible.   When this question is answered thoughtfully, often all you have to do is a bit of joint problem solving.  On occasion, however, you’ll want to give some concrete, specific suggestions–in brief format. 

Feedback is such a tricky thing.  How do you structure it with your employees?  Do you go through these questions with your people often?

For effective feedback to happen, you as a manager or leader need to make it a priority.  You need to make it a habit to get feedback from people early and often.