Delivering Negative Employee Feedback The Nice Way

by Sabrina Son on Dec 23, 2014 8:00:00 AM

manager giving employee feedbackIt doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned executive or a first-time manager—serving up a plate of negative employee feedback is never easy. There’s no right way to deliver it. There are, however, ways to make it less painful for both parties.

Believe it or not, providing negative feedback can produce a positive result. It keeps employees engaged and lets them know how they’re performing or how they can improve.

Toss The Sandwich

Have you been using the “sandwich method”? That is, feeding employees sweet words, giving them a difficult message, and then telling them how valued they are? Sorry to break it to you: it’s expired. You can fluff up your feedback as much as you want, but if you’re not going to offer anything constructive, it’s pointless.

Instead, be direct. This way, you won’t risk sounding insincere or diluting your message. Blending criticism with praise gives off mixed messages.

Focus On The Facts

This isn’t the time to call out who’s done what. If an employee is making inappropriate comments at work, don’t just say that they’re “being inappropriate.” Provide a specific example to solidify the claim. This way, the employee is aware of what you’re defining as inappropriate and will learn how not to repeat the same mistake.

Live In The Now

We’re led to believe that performance review cycles dictate when managers can give feedback. If you bring up a problem from six months ago, what are the chances the employee is going to remember all the details?

So seize the moment. This keeps the idea relevant and allows for a productive, two-way conversation about the issue at hand.

Provide Actual Goals

Walking into a discussion with a negative and narrow frame of mind will only put employees on the defensive. Remember, there’s a difference between providing negative feedback and criticizing someone. Make these discussions a coaching opportunity. Let employees know how making these changes will benefit their professional development.

Providing employees with negative feedback shouldn’t have to be so awkward. Are you looking for ways to approach these conversations? Ditch the sugarcoating and finger-pointing. Opt for a more strategic plan that includes being direct, factual, and goal-oriented in a timely manner to turn something negative into a positive learning experience.



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This post was written by Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the managing editor for the TINYpulse blog. A Seattle native, she loves her morning (or anytime) coffee, spending her weekends on the mountains, and of course, the famous rain.

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