How to Give Negative Feedback

August 8, 2017

Nobody likes being the bad guy, but as an employer/manager, it is your job to lead your team to success by not only offering encouragement but also criticism. If done correctly, sharing negative feedback can improve a team’s overall performance. Negative feedback doesn’t have to be an awkward, rude or cold exchange that escalates into a heated argument or tearful exchange. There are ways to deliver negative feedback that result in a positive outcome. Before pursuing the difficult conversation, check out these tips!

  1. Establish a culture of feedback.
    • First and foremost, it’s important to build a positive relationship with your employees and establish a culture of feedback up front. People are more receptive to criticism from people they know and trust, so be sure to let your employees know you have their best interests in mind. Discuss the importance of feedback with your team and emphasize that both positive and negative criticism will play a part of the process.
  2. Plan regular feedback sessions.
    • Random criticism may catch people off-guard. Consistently dedicating time to discuss employee performance and deliver feedback will further establish a culture of feedback and hold you accountable for sharing feedback.
  3. Don’t make it personal.
    • When delivering negative feedback, try to remove the person from the matter as much as possible. Making a personal attack will put the employee on the defensive. For instance, rather than calling an employee careless or lazy, explain that he or she has made a few errors that can be easily corrected by being more attentive.
  4. Find a balance of negative feedback and positive reinforcement.
    • If you “bury” the criticism under a series of compliments, the employee may miss the message, which is why it’s important to find an appropriate balance. Offer plenty of positive reinforcement when necessary, but when it’s time to deliver negative feedback don’t beat around the bush. Take the time to plan out the difficult conversation so that it encourages growth and positivity, even if most of what you say is negative.
  5. Don’t be vague.
    • When delivering negative feedback, be specific and provide specific examples of poor performance. Then, explain direct actions that can be taken to improve. This leaves less room for confusion. The last thing you want is for your employee to be unsure of what he/she is doing wrong.
  6. Allow for two-way conversation.
    • Lastly, encourage your employees to respond to your feedback and share their points of view. This will make feedback sessions more productive and show your team that you value their thoughts and opinions just as much as your own.

See? Giving negative feedback doesn’t have to be that bad. Stop avoiding the difficult conversations and embrace these tips in order to improve your team’s performance.


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