How to Give Feedback Without Alienating Your Employees
Few people relish the idea of telling someone they’re doing something wrong or that there’s room for improvement. But if your employees don’t receive constructive criticism, they’ll have no idea where they can improve or if they aren’t doing something correctly, which can have a negative impact on your company’s growth. Giving negative feedback doesn’t have to be something you or other leaders at your company dread. If you let your emotional intelligence, or EQ, guide you, you might find that giving constructive criticism becomes a positive experience for your employees and for you.
Get the Timing Right
When’s the best time to offer an employee feedback? Ideally right after you notice a certain behavior or right after a presentation or other project is completed. If you delay offering the feedback, it might be difficult for you or the employee to remember exactly what you’re talking about. Delivering feedback at the right time is essential whether you have something positive to say or something constructive to offer.
Make the Feedback Process a Conversation
Delivering feedback to an employee shouldn’t be a monologue. Remember that he or she is a person and has his or her own thoughts and feelings. One way to ease into a feedback conversation is to pass the ball to your employee. Ask him or her how he or she thought a project or presentation went or, if you’re conducting a performance review, ask him or her what areas need improvement or what his or her weaknesses are.
If your employee mentions specific things, listen to what those area, then start your feedback discussion by ask how he or she thinks those areas can be improved. Even if you have different areas you want to focus on, it’s important to make sure you listen to your employee’s concerns.
Vague feedback, whether it’s positive or negative, is pretty much useless feedback. You might think you’re helping out an employee by telling him or her “great job!” or “really nice work!” But if you don’t explain what was a good job or why, you’re not giving your employee much to go on. He or she won’t know exactly what it is he or she should keep doing.
The same is true for negative feedback. A comment such as “you seemed nervous” doesn’t help an employee very much. If you think someone seemed nervous during their presentation, explain why. It might have been because he or she kept fidgeting or pushing hair away from his or her face, for example.
Make It About You
How you phrase feedback can make it either sound like a personal attack, causing a person to get defensive, or it can make it sound like a fact, something that you can work on together. When you make constructive feedback about yourself, you shift some of the blame away from the employee and turn the criticism into something he or she can’t argue with. For example, if you say, “when you were fidgeting during your presentation, I felt that you didn’t want to be there,” you make an assumption about your team member, which he or she can refute.
But if you say, “when you kept pushing your hair to the side during your presentation, I felt distracted,” you tell the employee how his or her actions affected your perception of the presentation.
Consider the Compliment Sandwich, But Don’t Rely On It
The compliment sandwich, offering positive feedback, followed by constructive, then followed by positive again, is a common technique used by managers to let their employees know when something needs to change. The technique is so common that employees can smell it coming from a mile away.
That said, you can still use it, but keep in mind that you don’t always have to. Sometimes, offering positive feedback on its own is the way to go. At other times, your employee might benefit from only hearing the constructive feedback.
The team at New Direction Capital understands the importance of building and managing positive relationships with your employees. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your company weather any growing pains.
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