You may think that, come time for performance reviews, your best bet is to offer words of encouragement to your employees. You know, praising them for their hard work and efforts while shifting focus away from areas where they could stand to improve.
You’d be wrong.
Negative Feedback Is Helpful
According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, nobody really likes to give a negative review. But more than half of us — 57%, to be exact — love to receive it, compared to 43% of us who enjoy hearing positive feedback only.
So why do these folks enjoy receiving negative feedback? According to the study,
Your boss tells you what you’re doing wrong, you listen to what they say, and you make the appropriate changes.
There’s one catch: negative feedback has to be delivered the right way. Your employees don’t want you to sit them down in your office only to start screaming about how terrible they are at the top of your lungs.
So what exactly is the best way to deliver negative feedback? Let’s take a look:
1. Don’t wait
You may want to use a convenient time like a performance review to convey negative feedback to a team member. But there’s no sense in prolonging the inevitable. Once you’ve made the decision to tell your employee what they’re doing incorrectly, set aside some time that week (heck, even that day) to have a conversation. Don’t delay.
2. Get to the point
Your employees are smart people. If you try to cloak your negative feedback in a bunch of fluff (e.g., “you’re a hard worker!” or “you’re funny!”), there’s a good chance your worker will notice, and the negative feedback won’t be as well received. A simple solution: be concise with your negative feedback. Say what you’ve got to say, and move on.
3. Talk about specific behaviors
Never make an employee on the receiving end of negative feedback feel as though the problem lies in their personality. Be sure to center your conversation on specific behaviors and specific actions. Let them know it’s not about who they are but about what they’ve been doing. Never get personal.
4. Let your employees speak
In traditional environments, negative feedback might just flow in one direction, from the boss to the employee. To increase the likelihood your employees learn from the negative feedback you offer and improve as a result, give them the chance to speak their minds after you’ve said your piece. Maybe one of the reasons your employee isn’t able to handle all of their responsibilities is because they aren’t given the proper support. You might not find that information out unless you grant them the opportunity to respond.
Your best employees understand that they aren't perfect — and they want to keep getting better. For this reason, it's essential that you give negative feedback from time to time when it’s warranted, no matter how hard it might be to do.
Just remember to be tactful and respectful when offering negative feedback. When it’s given the right way, it’s not unreasonable to expect a noticeable uptick in productivity and the quality of work.
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