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Giving Negative Feedback – 5 Methods that Will Help You

Giving Negative Feedback – 5 Methods that Will Help You

It is always difficult to have a conversation about something someone is not doing well enough, at work. However, without these conversations, and appropriate avenues to facilitate these conversations, getting better would never be an option. Giving Negative Feedback is something that can get uncomfortable for either of the two reasons: 1. not being sensitive enough, 2. for being too sensitive and not putting across your point clearly. However, if you are in the shoes of someone who is expected to help your co-workers grow – by providing them with timely and accurate feedback, you will have to familiarize yourself with the process of delivering feedback. And it won’t always be positive feedback.

Here are 5 methods that will help you deliver negative feedback in a more structured, professional, and hopefully pleasant way:

  1. Take the help of self-assessments

    If you use self-assessments, your job is already half done. Using a pre-made self assessment checklist, and asking your team member to complete it before the feedback meeting helps both of you gain perspective about the current situation. In a lot of ways, it also helps both concerned get on the same page. By taking the help of a self-assessment you help prepare yourself for the meeting, and also give the concerned person an opportunity to rate himself/ herself honestly. During your meeting, this can be used as a yardstick to discuss the feedback you have.

  2. Use their job description as a basis

    Another “tool” apart from the self-assessment checklist that you can use to facilitate the feedback session is the job description of the team member. A job description is an outline of the expected roles and responsibilities of an employee. By using it as a basis of comparison to the actual tasks and objectives being met by the individual, you will have an idea about if he/she is aligned with the job description or has deviated from it. This will also help you point this out to your team member.

  3. Support your feedback with examples

    The basis for your negative feedback would be specific. And it is important to say out loud the specifics of the feedback. In other words, if your feedback comes with an example of a specific situation, bring it up. By doing so, you are able to be clear in your communication and this will also help you tackle the next steps of thinking about a solution to the problem. When you speak in vague terms, finding solutions to problems become difficult. As a result of which the problem may keep occurring.

  4. Speak about strengths

    It is important to support or balance your negative feedback with positive feedback. Remember that the objective of the feedback session is to bring to the notice of the team member what is not working, and to motivate him/ her to do better, and not the contrary. If it were the contrary then this would have been a meeting to discuss the individual’s termination from the organization. Therefore, it is important to also speak about the skills and the strengths of the individual. It is also important to be careful about how you speak. Adopting a tone that is firm, yet kind is the best bet. Do make sure that the session is a dialogue. Listening is as important as speaking!

  5. Remind yourself that this is your job

    No matter how hard it is to carry through this session, you need to because after all, it is your job. Before the session, it is important for you to orient yourself about it so you can be as professional as possible. Remember that it is not a personal reason being discussed, but a professional one. Hence, you must remain objective through out. It is also important to keep in mind that the team member concerned may not view the feedback as objectively as you provide it. In which case, you would have to remind yourself to hold your ground and tell yourself that you are doing your job.

Have you been in a position where you have had to discuss or provide negative feedback to a team member? What worked for you and what didn’t? Hearing from you always motivates us to write better, so do write back!

Why is Feedback Important?

Why is Feedback Important?

The world that we inhabit today, is characterized most frequently by the relationship between consumers and service providers. The reason being, a majority of our actions are defined by either consumption or provision of services. We could be at the receiving end or at the end of delivery, whether directly or indirectly. Regardless, it is a present continuous action. Starting from the Ubers we ride in, to the food we eat at restaurants, to the ever so frequently used online shopping and delivery services, or even the work that we do at our respective workplaces every day – there is one common thread binding all of this, which is the action of providing and receiving services.If services are such a crucial part of our everyday lives, why then do we take the one mechanism in place which ensures its smooth and efficient delivery for granted? Namely, feedback.

Its importance cannot be stressed enough. One might dismiss the importance of feedback by saying, “what’s the use, I am not going to be taken seriously”. Or, “oh it doesn’t matter, (s)he doesn’t really know what they’re speaking about”, if we’re receiving feedback.

However that is no longer the case. Why? Because of the stiff competition between the service providers of the same services. The one thing that sets them apart is how valuable they consider feedback and incorporate the same into their services. Which is why feedback in the world of services today is very relevant and important. And when we say services, we don’t just mean the large-scale services, we mean just any kind of service – even the kind that you deliver every day at work.

What are some other ways in which feedback is crucial? Have a look –

  1. You get a sense of direction and purpose

    It is only with appropriate feedback or constructive criticism that you realize how much progress you’re making in what you’re doing. Proper, articulate feedback helps you understand how far you’ve come, and how much further you see yourself going. You realize what’s working and what’s not, and it spurs you to think of ways to take yourself closer to what you envision as your purpose.

  2. It inhibits stagnation

    Without constructive criticism and feedback, it is easy to develop a sense of complacency. You keep doing things in a fixed manner without knowing if you’re really moving closer to your objective and goals. While you may not necessarily get worse at what you’re doing, it won’t be possible to get any better either. Having a system of feedback and incorporating the same into your work gets rid of the otherwise inevitable stagnation.

  3. It fosters growth and evolution

    With feedback, you understand which direction you need to push harder in. It also makes you realize if you need to change your approach and adapt to new environments. That is exactly how you learn and evolve as individuals and not surprisingly, even as businesses/ services. It helps you realize if the work that you’re doing is adding value in any way, and if it isn’t how do you change your game plan to evolve.

  4. A sense of fulfillment

    Feedback doesn’t necessarily have to be just negative. It can also be positive. In fact, every time you appreciate a particular service, let them know why you liked it. Remember that you would feel valued as well, if someone told you that you were doing a good job. It goes without saying that getting positive feedback for your work is a very motivating and fulfilling feeling. It cements your sense of purpose and gives you confidence to forge ahead in the direction you have imagined.

The process of giving and receiving feedback is not easy, and is a matter of responsibility at both ends of the spectrum.

Very often, we are quick to deliver feedback in what one may call “absolute” terms, without really considering our thoughts carefully. Karen Naumann in her article on why feedback is important makes a very valid point when she speaks about how it is important to be “professional” and “kind” while delivering feedback –

“So, before we give someone feedback, we really need to check our own motives and current mood whether we feel stressed, annoyed, jealous, afraid, or simply have antipathy towards the other person. And then it is on us to really look at the performance of the other person professionally and kindly, with the goal of helping them unlock their greatest potential.

On the flip side however, that’s also exactly why giving and receiving feedback is not easy for any of us, whether it is positive or “negative” nature. It really does require a great amount of one of our most difficult lifelong tasks called self-reflection, as well as humbleness and openness to different opinions and thoughts on the giver’s and receiver’s end.”

What is your opinion on how important feedback is? How are the processes of giving and receiving feedback different? Want the world of work to be able to learn through your experience? Let us know about your thoughts right here!