Giving feedback to your employees is an important responsibility for any manager. While in a perfect world most managers would love to give nothing but praise, giving negative feedback is one of the most powerful tools you have to improve your employees’ work habits. Here are some tips for how to give negative feedback without hurting feelings:
Give it out in a timely manner. Feedback, negative or positive, is the most effective when given as it arises. Addressing problems quickly is the best because the details are fresh in everyone’s minds and there may still be time to save what went wrong.
Begin with something positive. Don’t call your employee into your office and lead with your negative feedback. This will put them immediately on the defensive, and someone on the defense is most likely not listening. Make sure your employee knows that he or she is valued before you give your criticism.
Keep it professional. Remember that this is about an employee’s performance and not their personality. (If there is a problem with their personality, feedback likely isn’t going to help.) Don’t be angry, don’t vent, and don’t bring up past mistakes to be vindictive or try to prove a point.
Ask thoughtful questions. Truly effective feedback not only makes an employee aware of their actions, but it helps guide them to improve their performance. Consider asking how they would do things differently if given another chance, or ask them what they’ve learned from the situation.
Don’t do it too often. If you start giving negative feedback too frequently, your employees will worry about making mistakes, which is a feeling that tends to lead to more mistakes. They may even dread coming to work, so make sure you know when to let something go.