An Eye Into The World

The art of giving negative feedback: do’s and don’ts

One of the most important communication skills each manager or team leader should possess is the ability to give and receive feedback, especially negative feedback. It is one of the most challenging aspects in a working environment, and it is vital for managers to learn how and when to give negative feedback.

Most often than not, dysfunctional negative feedback occurs when feedback is only given when employees fall short of performance requirements.

The first thing to realize is that people tend to respond more strongly when it comes to receiving negative feedback than positive one, as discovered by professor Andre Miner, together with his colleagues from the University of Minnesota, in a study published in 2005. For most people, it is not easy to open their mind and digest the negative feedback they may get from others and try to learn something from it, especially when it is not given in a constructive way.


What to do?

  1. Schedule regular check-ins with your employees, regarding the projects they are working on, so that giving feedback – both positive and negative – will become a normal part of their daily activities. In this way, you are also able to identify in advance any aspects that need improving, before getting to the final stages of the projects, where things might get more complicated.
  2. Create a positive culture, where managers at all levels help employees feel they are doing worthwhile work and are therefore important. The type of culture that avoids giving dysfunctional negative feedback, as it can belittle one’s sense of importance; one where employees are not afraid to make mistakes and see them as references for improvement.
  3. It might sound odd for a manager to ask permission to give feedback to its employees, but this can tip people off that criticism is incoming and might make them more receptive to hearing it and trying to understand what has to be improved.
  4. It is also extremely important to frame criticism in terms of the results employees have to achieve and how they can get there, rather than making employees feel bad about their mistakes. One cannot understand how to meet expectations, when there is no explanation of what has to be improved.

Employees need to know exactly what went wrong and what is expected of them. Also, give examples of how things should have been done, which will further clarify matters and possibly gain you the respect of your team, as it shows you are truly involved in helping them improve.

Source: Performance Magazine

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