How to Give Negative Feedback

Sitting across the table from another co-worker having to deliver negative feedback on their work performance is a stressful task. Employees spend a majority of their day taking pride in the work they are performing, and as a supervisor it is never easy communicating to that employee that their work is insufficient.

According to an academic journal article by Jean Kantambu Latting, 48% of employees feel they receive insufficient feedback regarding their performance. Although the task of giving negative feedback can be dreaded by supervisors, the reality is that the employees are eager to hear feedback and areas of improvement. Here are some tips on how to effectively deliver negative feedback:

1) Start the Meeting by Building rapport

Having difficult conversations can be made easier through allowing yourself and the employee to feel comfortable clearly communicating their thoughts. It’s important to establish a psychologically safe environment where the employee feels safe to express their opinions, and that can be done by starting the meeting with rapport and asking personal questions such as “how is your family doing?”.

2) Be Direct, Provide Specific Actionable Feedback

Employees will not feel personally attacked or feel that you are singling them out if you stick to the facts about their performance. By providing data or statistics regarding performance, the employee will be less likely to challenge you and will be aware of the need for improvement.

3) Offer Solutions and Ideas on how to Improve

An effective supervisor won’t just identify mistakes without offering assistance on how to help the employee improve their performance. By offering solutions, the employee will see that you are taking a vested interest and will be more motivated to improve.

4) End the meeting with positivity

Similar to how you started the meeting with building rapport and a positive environment, it’s important to end the meeting with the employee feeling motivated to improve and not discouraged from the negative feedback. The supervisor should recap the problems in performance, the applicable solutions, and motivate the individual to continue contributing to the team

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