Everyone loves giving “atta boys” to fellow co-workers and direct reports, but when it comes to giving negative feedback, even your manager would rather run in the other direction. Studies would suggest that people actually crave corrective suggestions from others, but what good is that if no one wants to jump in and talk about what’s going wrong?
Don’t give a feedback sandwich – It might be your instinct to give negative feedback bookended with positive feedback, but essentially that doesn’t smooth the edges like you might think. In fact, sandwiching the good with the bad makes the good feedback seem insincere, and that’s the last thing you want!
Ask permission to give the feedback – Sometimes, just giving the other person a heads-up that you’re about to mention something negative gives him enough prep time to brace himself, allowing for a better discussion.
Stick with the facts – If your feedback isn’t regarding a specific observation, a situation which yielded specific results, then perhaps you need to reconsider this particular feedback discussion. Gathering the facts before the discussion will help you stay focused on the action/reaction aspect of the issue. And along these same lines…
…Don’t jump to conclusions – If you’re giving feedback to an employee who has seemed distracted or is making mistakes, perhaps it’s because he or she has a family issue at home that you don’t know about. Assuming the person is lazy or just slacking off is probably not the right way to approach the conversation!
Go easy on the novices – A study featured in The Journal of Consumer Research indicates that people who are experts in their fields want to hear that negative feedback because it pushes them to do better. Novices in their fields, however, are looking for positive reinforcement. So go easy on those novices! You don’t want to be the reason they changed from nuclear engineering to accounting.
Feedback is feedback, and the best way you can issue some is to separate as much emotion as possible from it. The end the purpose of it is not to make the recipient feel better; it’s to help that person do better. And who doesn’t want to do better?
Next Post: Wednesday, September 24