Your job would be a whole lot easier if your employees could read your mind and know exactly how you wanted them to improve without having to ask.
Of course, that’s not the way it works — so giving feedback is an essential part of any manager’s job. If you want your team to continually improve, you need to provide prompt and specific feedback.
For the sake of civility, you might be tempted to shower your employees with praises and only talk to them about the things they are doing well. But it turns out that employees actually value negative feedback more than positive feedback because they understand that is how they can develop into better workers. According to the Harvard Business Review, employees prefer receiving negative feedback by a three-to-one margin. Unfortunately, 43% of managers say that offering up negative feedback is a stressful experience.
This doesn’t mean that you should berate your employees on a regular basis. Rather, your feedback should be constructive and helpful. When you stick to that framework, delivering negative feedback becomes easier.
- Is it true? It’s all too easy to let personal biases cloud your judgment — it’s human nature. Are you glossing over negative feedback for one of your favorite employees or neglecting to praise a team member who sometimes rubs you the wrong way? Before you offer feedback to your workers, think objectively and be sure that what you’re saying is true and fair.
- Is it necessary? Let’s say a recent team project was received poorly by a client. Everyone worked hard on it, but the client was just expecting something different. These things happen. Sometimes they’re unavoidable. No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to please all of your customers all of the time. If your employees delivered on what was under their control, ask yourself whether it makes sense to scold them before going through with it. Was there anything the team could have done differently to produce a better outcome? If not, you may want to hold your tongue.
- Is it kind? From time to time, your workers will drop the ball — even your rock stars. We’re all humans, and we all have our off days. When employees don’t live up to your expectations, by all means schedule a meeting to tell them what they are doing wrong and what they need to do to improve. But no matter what you do, avoid getting personal and don’t make it a beatdown. Deliver your feedback with the employee’s best interest at heart and talk about how they can grow and learn from their mistakes.
The ability to share effective employee feedback is one of the greatest skills you will ever develop. When you perfect it, your team will get stronger every day as employees are engaged and yearn to acquire more knowledge and new skills.
While you should deliver feedback regularly, you don’t need to share every single thought with your employees. Take a deep breath and ask yourself whether the feedback you’re about to share is true, necessary, and kind. That’s how you can ensure your message gets across and is well received.
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