Nobody likes to receive negative feedback, and most people don’t like delivering it either. But negative feedback is a crucial part of life and business. In fact, one psychologist actually thinks not giving negative feedback can be selfish, because it prevents others from improving. Since negative feedback is so important, here four ways you can deliver it pain-free.
Establish Authentic Relationships
Negative feedback is never fun, but if you have a good relationship with your co-workers and employees it is much easier to deliver. Part of having a good relationship is ensuring employees understand what is expected of them. Make it clear what behavior is or isn’t acceptable. Set achievable goals. Foster an open and honest relationship and you will always be able to provide feedback – and the feedback will be well received.
Keep it Simple and Honest
We’ve all probably heard to give a “compliment sandwich”. Start with a compliment before going into the negative feedback, and then wrap up with more compliments. But we are all busy people and this approach is a waste of time. In fact, a study found that it doesn’t even work most of the time, as 50% of the people who received this compliment sandwich concluded they were doing well – they didn’t even notice the negative feedback in between. Instead, cut the fluff and get to the heart of the issue. Keep it simple.
Focus on the “What”
The old adage “it’s not personal, it’s business” is true. Focus on the “What” of the problem. What was done incorrectly? What were the consequences of that behavior or incident? Be as specific as possible but try not to point fingers. Make it clear that the negative feedback would be the same for everyone who behaved the same way. This makes the person receiving the feedback much more receptive to it, and the specific examples will help them understand exactly what they did wrong. And hopefully they’ll learn to never repeat the same behavior.
Deliver it Often
Don’t save negative feedback up for one big conversation. Instead, deliver negative feedback quickly. Correcting the behavior or problem immediately is better for everyone involved. And providing negative feedback regularly simply makes it part of the job. It still may not be fun to hear, but if everyone is regularly getting feedback (positive and negative), it becomes normal for everyone.
Don’t get too focused on delivering negative feedback that you forget to receive it as well. It’s just as important – maybe even more so – to be willing to accept negative feedback. Not only does receiving negative feedback set the tone for the rest of your employees, it also keeps employees more engaged.