Giving honest feedback to a colleague without destroying confidence is a highly nuanced skill, particularly if some of the feedback could be perceived as negative.
No manager wishes to destroy the confidence of their team but there are occasions within businesses that necessitate honesty and directness. Today’s Organisation works in a rapidly changing environment, it is important for employees to continuously improve their skills and expertise—and for mistakes to be recognized and corrected in real-time so that they don’t harden into bad habits or lead to erroneous conclusions.
If your goal is to get the most out of people, then you have to be willing to give direct, difficult feedback. It’s not a bad thing. Along with a coaching and guidance mindset, the following suggestions should be kept in mind of those who want to get better at delivering direct feedback:
- Begin by clarifying your objectives. What do you want to accomplish in this conversation? Provide feedback with clarity and guidance. If a new skill is required, offer the learning opportunity. Set agreed upon mutual goals, expectations with timeframes. Make it clear that this is an opportunity for growth and improvement while stating that their job is not in jeopardy.
- Visualize the beginning and the end of the conversation. Personalize the conversation rather than following a script. Avoid accusatory body language, such as pointing. Ranting and venting is a strict no-no. Spell out the issue. Provide specific examples.
- Negative feedback should be specifically focused on recognizable behaviors that can be changed rather than on personality traits or vague generalizations.
- Try to anticipate how the information will be received along with your reaction to any response. Employees often feel that they are not heard. This is especially true since most of us are working remotely. Questions are an effective way to start the conversation, and managers often fail in listening to the answers. Resist the temptation to jump right to the problem before the employee has the opportunity to talk.
- Never give feedback or a critique in front of other people. In-person is best whenever possible. Nowadays, videoconferencing is the second best. Email is subject to misunderstandings and the intention can backfire. Always read your email out loud before sending it. Visualize yourself on the receiving end. Depending on the issue, you might want a second opinion before you hit send.
- Depending on the severity of the situation, give your reaction time to cool off, if necessary. We advise not to wait too long before addressing critical issues or the employee will feel the feedback is coming out of nowhere. The longer the delay, the more the incident fades and the risk for repeat behavior is likely to continue.
- You have to be specific about the behavior you have observed and the impact it is having on others, and provide some guidance moving forward.
I am an Entrepreneur and Angel Investor. Board Member of TiE SoCal Angels Fund, and CEO @ Optizm Global, the executive search firm. We are a Right Fit Recruitment & Placement Agency.
I’m the Co-Founder of “StartupSteroid” the platform to connect founders with investors.
As an Angel Investor I look for Business Plan, Cashflow, Core Team, Board of Advisors, Secure IP, Quality Investors, Monetization Models, USP, Scalability, Strong Returns, Growth Market, and Board Role.