How to Positively Give Negative Feedback

How to Positively Give Negative Feedback

As a small business owner, one of the least-glamorous parts of the job can be delivering negative performance feedback to your employees. And with the end of the year upon us, performance reviews are top of mind. Not to worry – we’ve got tips on how to make this task less painful for everyone involved.

Research suggests that employees would rather have feedback, be it positive or negative, over no feedback at all. It’s all in the way its delivered—if it’s delivered in a positive way, even negative feedback can be seen as positive. There’s a fine line, though. To ease the discomfort of letting someone know they aren’t performing well, it’s often tempting to wrap your negative feedback in praise. The Feedback Sandwich can be counterproductive, making an employee believe they’re doing better than your negative feedback is suggesting. In conclusion, stay away from peppering in praise when your main goal is to provide constructive criticism.

Be direct in your feedback. There’s nothing less productive than holding a conversation with your employee, only to have them walk away completely confused about the message you just delivered. It’s not fair to them or you if you dance around the issue at hand. People cannot process negative feedback and work toward turning things around when they’re not clear on what is going wrong in the first place. Allow your employee to ask questions about the message you’re delivering, too. They should be given that opportunity to have things clarified (it is their career, after all).

Feedback can be almost useless if you’re not also offering up solutions to your critiques for your employee. Chances are, since you’re the one who recognized the need for improvement, you’re also the one with a good idea on how to make it right. Once you’ve sat down with your employee and had the talk, work through concrete ways to turn things around.

After you’ve delivered your message, the next step is to come up with an action plan. You and your employee should be holding regular syncs to touch base on their progress. Nail down a schedule complete with milestones you hope this person can achieve. During your check-ins, address these areas to make sure they’re on track. Having regularly scheduled follow-ups will give your employee something to work toward and a defined deadline during which they are expected to meet those requirements.

Generally speaking, delivering negative feedback is no walk in the park for either party. But with a few simple general rules, it can be a little easier. The only wrong way to deliver feedback is to never deliver it at all.

The loan experts at ARF Financial have been in the business for decades, offering financial advice to small business owners nationwide since 2001. Be sure to check in with the Financial Pantry for tips and tricks on everything from marketing plans to expansion ideas. We’re here for you and your business, and we’re ready to help you realize your ultimate success!