Nobody likes giving negative feedback. Perhaps that’s why most of us are so bad at it. We don’t like delivering bad news or making someone feel bad about their performance.

giving negative feedbackApproaching a team member with negative feedback must be done, though, so that the team can get back on track and continue to meet its goals.

Here are several ways to deliver negative feedback that will be effective and relatively painless:

  • Give the feedback as soon as possible once you’re made aware of the issue.
  • Always deliver negative feedback in private.
  • Open the conversation by going over positive accomplishments and the person’s strengths.
  • Don’t transition from the positive part of the conversation by using the word “but” or “however.” Try using the word “and” instead.
  • Avoid using “absolute” words like “never” or “always.”
  • Focus on their specific performance or behavior, not your own judgments. The feedback needs to be about tangible things.
  • State your specific concerns – don’t dance around the topic.
  • Don’t focus on things the person has no control over.
  • Ask probing questions to try and uncover reasons for the behavior or performance issue.
  • Listen with empathy and offer assistance for improvement.
  • Complete the feedback discussion with another positive aspect about their performance.
  • Once the person has corrected the issue, make sure to let them know about it. This reinforces success-oriented behavior.

Most of all, make sure the environment and the discussions are consistent, predictable and welcoming. This helps to connect with and strengthen relationships with the entire team.

As a team member, how should you handle negative feedback?

  • Listen to what the team leader or supervisor is trying to tell you.
  • Don’t let emotion cloud your vision. The feedback isn’t personal, it’s a way to help improve your performance and to highlight things you may not be aware of.
  • If something is stopping you from achieving your best – whether it’s a skill you need more training on, a personal issue, or a conflict with another team member – let the team leader know.
  • Ask the team leader for suggestions on how to improve or correct a performance or behavior issue.
  • Once the two of you have agreed on solutions to the issue, implement those solutions.