Negative feedback â itâs never something you look forward to giving as a leader.
However, that doesnât mean you shouldnât give it. Although itâs difficult to say negative things about your employeesâ work, itâs worth remembering that your staff can only thrive if you give them direction.
Negative feedback is a method of giving your team members the tools they need to improve and get better at their jobs.
According to one study, 83% of employees say they appreciate both positive and negative feedback.
So, how do you give criticism in a way thatâs positive and beneficial?
The best approach is to be direct. The employee is more likely to listen to your comments if youâre clear about what you want them to learn.
Avoid the âfeedback sandwichâ common in many business environments, where you surround criticisms with compliments. Although itâs nice to give some positive feedback to soften the blow, you want them to walk away with a clear vision of what theyâve done wrong and what they need to work on.
Be specific about exactly what the issue is and what you want to change. You can ask the employee if they have any questions to help ensure their understanding.
Try this: âI know youâve been working longer hours lately, and we appreciate the effort, but the quality of your work is starting to slip. We need to find a way to get back on track.â
Your feedback will likely be more effective if it doesnât feel like an attack.
Rather than telling someone how disappointed you are in them, ask them to consider their own work and whether they would be happy in your shoes. Encouraging self-reflection pushes your staff to think more carefully about their behavior.
In some cases, the employee might even be aware of the issue and give you some ideas on how they can improve. Employees will generally be more invested in their growth if they feel like they have an input, so itâs important to listen to their ideas before you speak.
Try this: âI know youâve missed your sales targets this quarter, and that just isnât like you. Do you have any ideas on what went wrong?â
Itâs important to avoid any âpersonalâ statements when youâre giving criticism, because this is more likely to make your employees feel defensive. As tempting as it may be to say that youâre disappointed in a team memberâs work, or that you were unhappy with something they did, try to focus on the job instead of yourself.
For instance, instead of saying:
âIâm getting really sick of your bossy attitude, and itâs affecting the whole teamâs morale,â you can try something more beneficial.
Try removing the personal nature by saying:
âSome of your team members have mentioned that theyâd like a bit of extra independence on their projects. Would you be comfortable with that?â
The focus should always be on the wider company, the way that things are affecting the business, and the employee, rather than you. Avoid making it sound like youâre the only person who has an issue, or that the issue is specifically with the person, rather than their work.
Just because you can see how serious a problem is doesnât mean your team members can.
Thatâs why itâs so important to explain the implications of the issue and why your staff needs to make a change.
For instance, if you have a team member thatâs constantly sending emails with typos to clients, you could tell them that this isnât good for the company image, but they may not realize how serious the issue is.
Instead, try focusing on evidence of how it could make a difference to the company.
For example, you could say, âOur clients have been complaining about the typos in your messages, and weâre concerned theyâre not sending the right message about the company.â
It helps for team members to see how their actions are affecting the business as a whole and even the other people in their team.
Finally, giving negative feedback is only a good idea when you can also provide your staff members with ways to improve and grow.
The last thing you should do is simply tell someone that youâre unhappy with their work and leave it at that. Employees should always be given the chance to evolve and grow with additional guidance.
For example, if you tell your team member, âWeâre not happy with the number of calls you took yesterday,â this lets them know that theyâre in trouble, but not much else.
Alternatively, if you say, âYour calls werenât great yesterday. Do you think thereâs a way you could improve your numbers?â youâre setting the foundation for improvement.
If your employee canât offer a suggestion themselves, ensure that you have ideas on how they can make a positive change.
Keep these strategies in mind for the next time you need to deliver some negative feedback. Putting it into a positive light, while still getting your point across, will help keep your team loyal and motivated to produce outstanding results.