While some managers have no problem delivering negative feedback, for some managers the thought of it is a source of anxiety. The question is where do you fall on the spectrum … you don’t mind, you tremble at the thought, or somewhere in between? No matter where you fall, there is one aspect of delivering negative feedback that is very important – the delivery itself.
The first, and most important thing to mention, is when you have to deliver negative feedback, don’t do it in front of your subordinate’s peers. That is unfair and demeaning. So pull your employee aside to deliver the news. Enough said on that.
The best thing to do is prior to the meeting have all of your facts ready. The worst thing you can do is sit down, and say something vague like “you need to work harder and better.” What does that really mean? So have the details you need to cover. This is important so your employee has a very clear picture of what went wrong or what needs improvement when delivering negative feedback.
You delivery is very important – be clear that you look forward to improvement in this area and that you feel confident in your employee’s skills. After all, if this is your first sit down regarding the issue, hopefully your employee can turn things around. If you use verbiage to tear him or her down, that only will lead to poor morale which in the end is not good for you, him/her, or the company.
In addition to sharing what is wrong, you need to give instructions on what can be done to improve performance. This is key for the future success of this person – he or she needs to know what the expectations are. Not only is that important so your employee can now strive to meet this requirement, but also if the poor performance continues you can honestly say that you clearly set expectations.
Ideally you want your employee to walk out of the meeting feeling he can improve in the area of concern. Unfortunately, you will have employees that do not improve, which is when you have to follow your company’s disciplinary guidelines.
In the area of negative feedback, always treat people how you would want to be treated if you were on the other side of the desk. Give clear feedback in a professional and non-demeaning manner, set expectations and sit back and watch, what will hopefully be, positive results.