The Reaction to Feedback and Structure

In Indeed’s list of the top reasons why people resign, number seven is needing more feedback or structure in the workplace.  Indeed’s author explains that some individuals thrive in a more fluid work environment, while others need more structure.  They further go on to say that feeling consistently unsure about how your manager views your progress and effort is a common reason why people look for a new job.

Feedback comes in a variety of forms, such as oral or written, informal, formal, descriptive, evaluative, supervisory, peer-reviewed, and self-assessed, in addition to through technology-based assessments.  The feedback itself can be positive or negative, correcting, and motivating.  ‘Constructive criticism’ is the preferred term in the workplace for the right kind of feedback.

The synonyms of ‘constructive’ are positive, useful, practical, productive, and helpful.  Synonyms for ‘criticism’ are critique, comment, blame, condemnation, and appreciation.  You can see that synonyms of ‘criticism’ can be positive or negative, and combining it into ‘constructive criticism’ is like saying “positive blame” or “useful condemnation”, for example.  The goal in the workplace is to provide feedback that aligns with business expectations and goals, without disparaging the person you are providing feedback to.  The challenge is often when you are on the receiving end, i.e. you are the recipient of the feedback.  Often a supervisor provides feedback professionally, only to find that the recipient adversely reacts to this constructive criticism.  When someone is not receiving as much verbal feedback in the workplace as they would like, it could be because they did not respond favorably to feedback given to them in the past, or maybe because little needs corrected or improved.  In these cases, someone’s need for feedback might really be a need for encouragement, recognition, or positive reinforcement. This is another topic we will cover during the last week of the series.

Steps to providing constructive feedback:

  1. Identify areas for feedback
  2. State the purpose of the feedback and the reason for providing the feedback at that time
  3. Describe what you observed or heard that you would like to be adjusted
  4. Be aware of your body language, tone, and presentation
  5. Give the person time to respond to your feedback
  6. Offer suggestions to assist them with any changes required
  7. Set and review a follow-up plan
  8. Thank them for their willingness to make changes


Steps to receiving constructive feedback:

  1. Listen fully to the feedback being shared
  2. Once done, ask if they would like you to respond immediately, or ask for time if you need time to process what they have said
  3. Make sure to ask for clarity to fully understand their message before you respond
  4. Be aware of your body language, tone and presentation when you respond
  5. Be open and honest, and ask for anything you need in order to meet their request
  6. Decide what you would like to do and follow-up with them to inform them of your next steps

If you are not aware of your communication style and how that style can be received by others when giving or receiving constructive feedback, then learning more about it is highly recommended.  A good tool to use is the DISC assessment – below are examples of traits people may have based on specific DISC styles.

Dominants (D) fear losing control and being taken advantage of:

  • They are direct and brief and like it when you also take this approach when communicating
  • They like to both provide and receive suggestions and solutions
  • Confidence in their abilities is important when both giving and receiving feedback
  • They may answer abruptly or quickly, and it is not meant to offend you
  • They ask to understand and verify, which to some may come across like interrogation

Influence (I) communicators fear rejection and loss of approval:

  • Keep in mind they may respond emotionally before they can give or receive feedback
  • They often have a need to verbalize thoughts, feelings, and concepts
  • Emphasis on how changes will benefit them is important when giving and receiving feedback
  • Non-formal settings are usually their preference for giving and receiving feedback
  • Emphasize how they are not lesser to you, the company or others, because of the need to address a change with them

Support (S) communicators fear the loss of security or sudden change:

  • Take time to explain how the adjustment will increase stability
  • Give examples of how the adjustment will increase stability
  • Ask what they need in structure or policy to support the changes required
  • Give them time to process and answer
  • Allow them to take a collaborative approach with others if they need to

Conscientious (C) communicators focus on quality:

  • Respect their knowledge and expertise
  • Address them in a professional business setting
  • Ask questions to them
  • Offer ideas and options to them, including back up options
  • Back up all verbal discussions with feedback in writing

Individuals can also be a combination of any of the above styles, which adds additional complexity to how they process feedback which is given and received.

In terms of an individual wanting to leave a workplace because they do not have enough structure, it often relates to their communication style and their perspective on what the balance of structure should look like.  The goal is to communicate or provide more structure when required, and then to keep working within or keep your direct reports working within that structure, if it has been proven to work for the company.  When either side needs to adjust the structure, then constructive criticism should take place, along with an effort to align expectations and agree on the next steps.

How do you give and receive feedback (aka ‘constructive criticism’) in the workplace? Share your tips with us below.

To Structuring Your Feedback Constructively,

Suzanne Breistol


Leave a reply

Your email addres will not be published.
Required fields are marked with

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.