Giving negative feedback might be a tough nut to crack for both, the employee and the employer. We collected our pearls of wisdom in a short, concise guide to master the art of giving constructive opinions on one’s work.
Not the first time, not the last
Whoever has not had tears in the eyes after receiving negative feedback from the employer should cast a stone first. The truth is – negative opinions on your work can be really unpleasant, unhelpful, and hard to handle when delivered badly. On the other side of this coin is the feedback giver, who may find the burden of reproving someone even harder. As it turns out, it is neither easy to give nor take.
Does this mean, when your feedback is not likely to be positive, you shouldn’t give it at all? No such thing! 65% of employees want to receive their feedback to get a better overview of their work. Let’s dig a bit deeper into the matter, and see 8 relatively easy tips to give your negative opinions like a pro.
Don’t be on a short fuse
Everyone gets it, someone hasn’t done the expected work, and you are going berserk. You truly don’t want to criticize your employee when you are still angry or upset. If tempers are hot, better to wait it out, and then take a problem with a fresh head. Giving constructive feedback makes sense as soon as the situation arises but when the atmosphere is heated, it is better to wait until the next morning.
Constructive, not critical
Choosing your words wisely may affect how valuable your opinion is. The key to giving your negative feedback is to focus on improvement and assuring the employee won’t let another failure happen. Focus more on a situation that occurred, highlight the problems and how to solve them, but don’t criticize the competence of employees. After all, you don’t want to lead to a mental breakdown, or if you do, keep tissues close.
Face-to-face makes sense
Under any circumstances, do not let your feedback be heard by others. Your opinion on someone’s work should be available only to that person. Letting the information slip outside your office, would be seen as a really douchey move, therefore find a private place, schedule a meeting or a call, and converse one to one.
Don’t beat around the bush, effective feedback is specific. Don’t generalize, don’t say things like: “Hey, you are failing this task time and again.” Instead, you could try to specify the things your employee has been doing wrong and list them. Pointing out particular mistakes, with proposed solutions will lead to better understanding and possibly eliminating the issue.
Listen before you speak
Consider that the person responsible for the fuckup has something to say about the occurred situation. Hear the person out, better be sure that you have all the important information before you act. Try putting yourself in the employee’s shoes and listen to the issues, challenges, and fears that person might have. By showing your empathy and that you want to help, employees are more likely to be more receptive.
This one is simple and strictly connected to the previous tip. Do not make assumptions before talking to the employee. Do not interrogate others first, do not judge before the talk – that could just worsen the situation.
No one is neither all bad nor all good. Even if you intend to give strictly negative feedback, maybe try to balance it a bit. Ever heard of Feedback Sandwich? No, it’s not the newest position in Subway, it’s a strategy comparing the talk with the employee to a sandwich structure. The top of the bun, in this case, would be a bit of positive affirmation, something like: “I know you did all you could, and you were trying.” Then comes the time for the sandwich filling, which you know comes after one magical word: “BUT…” *insert constructive criticism*, and then it comes to the bottom of the bun, which is another positive affirmation. Easy and clever!
Remember about constant feedback and don’t let it stack. By interacting regularly with your recipient, you avoid lengthy and unexpected talks. Schedule weekly meetings to be in constant contact with employees.
The bottom line
That’s it! Now you know exactly what to do and what to avoid in your feedback. The most important rule however is to have respect for your employees, and even when the fuckup is done, you should handle it with grace. Of course, all employers are humans (I suppose), and a bit of rage is rather unavoidable, but try to hold your horses and be professional. It will not only profit in better performance but also affect in improving your relationship with your crew.