Most managers hate giving negative feedback to staff. Over the years I have learned a few things (usually the hard way) that make that process a bit easier. Here’s my top 5 tips about giving negative feedback to staff:
- Create an alliance with your staff.
Your staff needs to feel like you are for them not against them. This alliance is built by the way you interact with them on a daily basis. Ask them how they are doing. Learn about their families, their hobbies, and the way they like to spend their weekends. Show interest in them as people and value what they bring to the table as an individual. Point out their strengths shamelessly. Be quick to give credit to them for successful projects they had a hand in. Be quick to apologize when you’re wrong and admit that you are learning and growing as a manager as well.
- Catch them being good.
More often than not we forget to praise for the positives because we feel like, “it’s their job I don’t need to praise them for doing it! That’s what they get a pay check for!” Wrong answer! They are people and they need to feel valued and appreciated. When they do their job well make an asserted effort to point it out!
- Address a negative behavior in the moment.
When you see an employee handle something in an inappropriate way address it in the moment. It then becomes a “teachable moment” and not a major sit down confrontation about something. If they forgot to do something just point it out and ask for it to be corrected. If they handled something wrong just pull them aside and let them know how they can handle it better in the future.
- Don’t be afraid to use empathy when you give negative feedback to a staff.
Agreeing with an employee that being written up is really a bummer is not agreeing that they shouldn’t be written up. It’s true! It does stink to get written up! It’s ok to empathize with them and still stick to your guns and follow the appropriate procedures with the goal of improving their performance. If you have built an alliance with your staff this will be a natural reaction for you. You will be sad to have to write them up and will be doing it with the goal of helping them become a better employee and they will know that going in to the meeting.
- Avoiding the conflict never makes things better.
No matter what, you have to just address behavioral issues with staff. The longer you avoid them the worse they will become; annnnndddd the employee may have no idea they are doing anything wrong! When you avoid the conflict because it is uncomfortable you rob your employee of the opportunity to improve. You also rob yourself of a growth opportunity.