Here’s a surprising fact: 92% of respondents to a Zegner/Folkman survey agreed with the statement “Negative feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.”
Even more surprising was that 57% of the respondents said they prefer negative feedback over positive feedback.
We all want feedback, we just don’t always like how it is delivered. Here are some quick tips to give higher quality feedback that employees will appreciate.
Don’t Wait: Positive feedback has the greatest effect when it’s immediate. There usually isn’t much prep or investigation needed before delivering positive feedback, so just go for it, don’t wait.
Be Meaningful: Reserve recognition and positive feedback for great performance. If you start celebrating mediocrity it will cheapen all the other recognition you’ve given in the past. That doesn’t have to mean less positive feedback, you can find things to celebrate big and small.
Give Details: Positive feedback should be more than just a celebration. Focus on what went right and why. That way we can feel good AND learn from our successes.
Do it Publicly: Public recognition can amplify the impact of positive feedback.
Delivering Negative Feedback
Be a Coach: It’s easy to point out what’s wrong, it’s much harder to show someone the path to what’s right. Engage around solutions and employees will be much more interested in hearing from you.
Focus on the Work: No one wants to be judged on their character, and frankly we shouldn’t be doing that at work anyways. Frame your feedback around the work and what’s going wrong, not around perceived character flaws. For example: don’t say “you’re unorganized,” say “you’re forgetting to call people back, and that’s a problem.”
Provide Examples: Negative feedback can become contentious, so be prepared with specific examples. Concrete examples will help make your feedback real for the employee. When we hear something negative our natural reaction is to recoil, bringing specific examples will help mitigate that.
Follow up: Negative feedback isn’t about calling people out, it’s about helping them develop. So plan to follow up on all negative feedback and discuss progress.
When Not to Give Feedback
When Failure Says It All: Sometimes failure is all the feedback people need. There’s no need to pile on when someone is already devastated by a failure. Pick them up and move on.
When You’ve Lost Patience: When you can’t control your emotions, you’re not giving feedback, you’re having an outburst.