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Providing feedback is an integral part of business and human resource management. It is a crucial component of assessing quality of work, numbers, effort, attitude, and everything else that goes in to an employee’s review. Giving negative feedback, unfortunately, can be an uncomfortable experience, and it requires tact, excellent communication, sensitivity, and compassion. When done correctly, most professionals will take constructive criticism well and understand that it is being given with their best interests in mind. They will even be motivated to do better in the future.
When done incorrectly, well, the results can be disastrous.
Here are suggestions on how to give negative feedback and obtain the best possible outcome:
Don’t be ambiguous.
When providing negative feedback you must be extremely straightforward and clear without any possibility for confusion or misunderstanding. State the facts and don’t sugarcoat the situation or allow an individual to downplay an issue of consequence. You will be doing the employee and yourself a disservice if you attempt to make light of the situation.
Don’t be sarcastic or condescending.
The objective of giving negative feedback is to ultimately correct and change behavior. Describe the situation, be objective and factual, and eliminate words and phrases that may be construed as offensive or a personal attack. If you are extremely agitated you should hold off on providing the feedback until you calm down and can communicate calmly and rationally.
Make certain the employee understands what to do in order to correct the situation.
Since the goal of negative feedback is to correct or change behavior, it is important that the individual knows exactly what must be done to improve. The employee may never have received the required training to do the job correctly, or there might have been miscommunication when they took the job. Regardless of what has prompted the negative feedback, it is important to have their assurance that they know how to self-improve.
Provide a timeline for the proposed improvements.
Odds are you want to see the proposed improvements immediately. Though that kind of turnaround might not be feasible, you certainly don’t want to see this dragged out any longer than necessary. The best way to prompt the individual to change behavior is to give them a timeline for when you want to see the improvements.
Stay positive.
Even though you have to provide negative feedback, stay positive and communicate this positivity to the individual. No one wants to feel beaten down before they have even had the chance to try and change their behavior.
Remember that constructive feedback is a great motivator. Praise often and sincerely and you will develop more positive employee and vendor relations.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black or white.