Functional teams often come together to perform tasks that are collaborative in nature, requiring seamless cooperation and communication on the part of team members. One of the key ways to achieve such open communication is by giving positive feedback to employees. However, not many employees are equipped to give or take feedback in a positive way. According to a research stated by a Forbes article, 65% of employees want more feedback than they currently receive. One of the reasons cited for such lack of feedback in the industry is the stress and unpleasantness involved in the process. It is, therefore, important that you are not only mindful of the way you share feedback and but also aware of others’ capability to receive it.

so here are five things that you need to keep in mind while giving feedback to a colleague.

build a context first 

Today, the team-size for complex projects could be as high as 100 or more, says HBR.  It is important that you help your colleagues understand that their contribution has a larger impact that can overflow and impact your performance. You must start your feedback by building a context as to why it is important for you to provide such feedback, and what impact can it have on the overall project. 

focus more on opportunity than the problem 

It’s best  to avoid focussing on the shortcomings or faults when giving feedback to employees. Take a positive approach and identify opportunities for growth. As per a study of Harvard Business School, people tend to get distant from those who give a feedback that is more negative as compared to their view of themselves. One way to take the positive approach is to add a course of action in the feedback and also its impact. Your choice of words and tone will also play a crucial role in making your feedback sound more constructive. 

welcome ‘knowledge sharing’ during the process 

One of the indirect, but long-term benefits of constructive feedback is exchange of knowledge. Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, in his book The Alliance,  explains that organizations can boost their innovation through mutual mentoring. You must remember that the members of different departments specialize in different fields, and hence there is a diverse range of subject-matter experts within the organization. A healthy exchange of skills and knowledge will not only be beneficial for your project, but will also be enriching in terms of new learning. 

develop a common language 

Using jargon that is specific to your department tends to make the message ambiguous for other team members. It is important that your feedback is clear and is easily understood. You must develop a language that is common among all project members to refine cross-functional communication and the feedback process. This has a much higher chance of making the feedback more effective. It is also recommended that you let go of any irrelevant or light-weight words from your communication. According to a Harvard Business Review article, you must replace weak meaningless words with strong meaningful words while communicating. 

ask questions 

Feedback is a two-way process. You are not the only one to give a feedback as there will be times when you could be at the receiving end. So, it is important to be as objective as possible while sharing feedback. It is always good to keep in mind that there could be some things that might not fall under your skill-sets or that you might miss certain things. In such cases, it is good to proceed with a question and leave the stage for the other team member to explain first. A research by The Journal of Consumer Research says that people with higher expertise tend to be more receptive to negative feedback as compared to novices. Willingness to know more and accept when you are wrong can help you set the right example of sharing constructive feedback.

Constructive feedback is the backbone of effective collaboration. Including one or more benefits for the person making the change in your feedback, increases the chances of others positively receiving your feedback. In essence, you can ensure successful feedback sharing by simply changing the focus from "you" to "how".