How to Deliver Negative Feedback to Your Employees

As a manager, you’ve been told that feedback is an essential part of your job. You need to give your team feedback on the good and the bad day-to-day. Without your input, mistakes can happen if a behavior isn’t corrected promptly. But no one wants to hear negative feedback. So, can you also help prepare your employees to listen to it without hurting their feelings? Here are some strategies you can have in your back pocket.

Make Sure Emotions are Under Control

Without realizing it, our own emotions influence the reactions and feelings of those around us. If you’re angry when you sit down to provide feedback to an employee, you’ll give off negative energy. That will set the recipient on edge and cause them to be reactive and defensive to your words. Before you sit down to provide feedback, take a moment to ground and center, and find a neutral place to help you be at ease.

Deliver Feedback Privately

It happens so often in business that people have become desensitized to it. A manager will call a staff meeting only to point out something egregious, often without naming names, that needs to be stopped that instant. The problem is, you’re not delivering the message to the person who needs to hear it. The person engaging in the bad behavior may not realize it’s directed at them. And for those who aren’t a part of the problem, they’ll internalize the message and become frustrated. Always have a one-on-one meeting with the person you’re addressing.

Focus on Behavior, Not the Person

Another very human reaction to negative feedback is to personalize the message, but this can be a hazardous road to travel. You have to remember that you’re not criticizing their personality; you simply want to call attention to specific behavior. Make sure you don’t make the feedback about who they are as a person but about what happened and how to prevent it.

Be Specific

When delivering the feedback, don’t try to remain general about the news. It’s much more vital that you’re specific, so you know that the exact message you want to convey comes across. Focus solely on the individual problem and be as specific as you can to ensure clear and understandable communication.

Listen

When providing feedback of any sort, it’s also essential that you take time to listen. Allow the employee to express themselves, ask questions, and share their side of the story. Don’t listen to respond immediately; just listen to take in what they have to say. You may learn something important about the situation.

Reaffirm Your Belief in Their Abilities

You always want to end negative feedback on a positive note. Make sure you reinforce that you do believe in them as a valued employee and that you know they have skills and abilities essential to your company. You want to appreciate them even when you have to provide less-than-positive feedback about their job or a specific situation.

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