In a perfect world, every employee would be incredible at their job and there would be no shortage of them; however, ask any manager and they will tell you sadly that isn’t the case. That’s not to say most employees can’t become exceptional employees; the only caveat is it usually requires a fair bit of coaching, a good amount of training and even more constructive feedback coming from the manager.
No matter what your management style is, invariably there will come a time when you are unhappy and you will be forced to give some negative feedback. The trick is to try and do so in a way that leaves the recipient the better for it, rather than have them in a spiral of despair. Which naturally begs the question – how do you effectively give constructive feedback?
One On One
One of the best things a manager can do when the time comes to give feedback, constructive or otherwise, is to do so in a private, one-on-one setting. This will help ensure the person on the receiving end doesn’t feel undermined or defensive as will often be the case if there is an audience present. Also, when arranging the meeting, be sure to do so in a way that doesn’t cause the employee to worry because that will likely cause their productivity to go down leading up to the meeting.
Discuss the Issue; Not the Person
The job of a manager is to look past the person and focus solely on the work they do, which is often easier said than done. However, when the time comes to discuss an issue with an employee, the goal is to focus on that issue, and not the person. This will help them realize the greater impact of their actions and the reason why things need to change.
Facts & Figures
Different people take criticism in different ways, and by that, we mean some people don’t want to take it at all. It is moments like these when it can be beneficial to come equipped with facts and figures as they relate to that employee’s performance. While some employees may take criticism as a personal attack, it is always hard to argue with factual data.
Get On Their Level
Few things can turn an opportunity for constructive criticism into a negative experience like talking down to an employee or making them feel inferior as a result of their mistakes. Instead, try relating to them on a more personal level, perhaps by sharing a similar story with them and discuss how the issue was resolved.
While nobody wants to be criticized, constructively or otherwise, it is important to end on a positive, reaffirming faith in the employee. Be sure to tell them their skills are valued and they were hired for a reason. When an employee believes in their worth, they are more likely to take criticism and turn it into actionable change.
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