Thursday Management Series

The art of giving a negative feedback

Whether one admits or not, everyone dreads the situation of giving or receiving a negative feedback. While being on the receiving end is sometimes painful and heart-breaking, giving one is no less. If you have been in a managerial role for quite some time now, or if this is your first time, take a deep breath and get ready to learn the art of giving a negative feedback with a little ease!

Do your research

As a manager or a lead, you have an additional responsibility to know and understand your team members. Before the feedback session, do your research and understand the situation. Make sure you know the person well enough to understand the work he has done, his strengths and weakness, his skills, his contribution and all other details that you need to know.

The sandwich approach! Should you follow or not?

The sandwich approach refers to the starting the feedback with a positive note like appreciating them, then hopping on to giving them the bad news and finally wrapping up by explaining why they are important to you and the organization. This approach is definitely better than jumping to the bad news as soon as the person enters the room, but,  with a minor tweak. Don’t make the appreciation overly sugar-coated that he knows that something worse is in store. Appreciate his efforts and work done in the past, but get to the point quickly and put your point forth explaining why you feel so and what is expected from him.

Don’t give a negative feedback, give a constructive feedback!

As they say, remove the negative out of the negative feedback. Nobody likes to hear negative about them even if they are wrong. And, there is always a better way of putting things which is where having excellent communication skills comes to rescue. The feedback should not sound like an attack or a criticism. It should be well-phrased and that is why it is better to prepare what you are going to say in advance to see it does not sound harsh. Put it in a way that the person understands what went wrong and will take the feedback constructively so as not to repeat it in future.

Conduct regular feedback sessions.

Usually, since most of the managers dread this situation, they avoid feedback sessions till the time it can be ignored. They just conduct the feedback sessions annually or at the time of appraisals. This is not good. At the later stage, you can barely remember what had happened and thus, it will not lead to a productive conversation. It is always a good practice to conduct feedback sessions on a more regular basis. This way you and your team will be on the same page and you can tell them what is going right or wrong right away.

No personal attacks!

Remember, the feedback does not have to be about who the person is, but about what happened. As an example, consider a person who comes in late for the meetings. Instead of pointing out that he is not punctual, explain the event when he was late for a meeting and how it disturbed the meeting when he entered the room later and that he was not available for his inputs that were required during the meeting.

Have a two-way communication

Don’t make the feedback session sound like a boring lecture. Have a two-way conversation which also allows the person to put his point forth. In exchange of your feedback, ask for his feedback/opinion about how the project is going and if he can suggest any areas of improvement within the team.

Giving positive feedback will always be easier than giving a negative one! Even with the tips above, it can never be an easy task because it depends on number of factors and the kind of people you are dealing with. Every person is different and needs to talked to differently. Remember, the end goal of a negative feedback should always be positive. Negative feedback should be given so that the person understands what went wrong, learns from it and performs better. By using these tips above and understanding the person involved, you can always make an effort to improve the process of giving a negative feedback and create a better and an honest relationship with your team members.

What do you think? Any suggestions to share with us? Write in the comments section below.

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