Sharing constructive feedback on work projects, or performance is something everyone will do at some point in their professional life. Whether it’s giving feedback to peers or people you manage, knowing how to give feedback effectively is a skill that managers need to acquire.

The term constructive criticism is synonymous with constructive feedback. No matter how you look at it, the feedback or constructive criticism is meant to offer guidance. That means an opportunity to share feedback to help isn’t an opportunity to be critical just for the sake of it.

As I’ve grown in my career, I’ve adopted the POP method for sharing constructive feedback with people I work with and manage. POP is an acronym for “Positive, Opportunity, Positive.” You may also know this method as the sandwich method because the need for improvement is sandwiched between the positive comments. I’ve adopted this method to give constructive feedback while ensuring your peers and mentees walk away feeling good about themselves and their ability to improve after the feedback has been shared. Here’s how it works:

Positive #1
The first positive in this situation can come in the form of a compliment. Identify something the person does well or point out a strength they have. For example, “I value the way you are proactive and are the first one who jumps on a task in order to complete it.” That can be very simple. It just needs to be positive and point out something that the person does well.

The opportunity comes into play where you state where the person has room to improve. This is where you pay mind to give feedback constructively – offering guidance on how the person can correct themselves. “I notice you are not making your deadlines. Something that can help is to make a plan to prioritize and map out your day ahead of time, so that you adequately piece out your day and make sure things that are due first are completed first.”
The sentence above identifies the area the person can improve and offers a practical tip on how they can do better. It’s important to mention that you do not want to lead your opportunity after stating the positive with a contrasting conjunction. For example, “I admire how you come to work on time each day, but I notice it takes you awhile to get started on your tasks.” Inserting the word “but” contradicts the positive you just stated. It negates it and makes your feedback take a negative direction.

Positive #2
The second positive closes out your feedback on a lighter note. You don’t want to leave a person feeling like they aren’t performing well after your constructive feedback. You want to be encouraging or even highlight something else that they do well.

For example, “I know that you want to do well here and be promoted, and you’re doing a great job. I’m not worried that you won’t be able to improve.”

It’s important to offer encouragement in your feedback because at the end of the day, it lets the person know that you support them and that you believe in them. This does wonders for overall morale.

Paying mind to this will allow your POP feedback to be effective and strengthen your relationship with your mentees so they are constantly improving and continuing to grow as professionals while contributing well to the team.