Healthy Ways To Give Team Members Negative Feedback

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When it comes to giving negative feedback, knowing how to do it effectively yet respectfully can make all the difference. You want your team members to feel respected and valued, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to skirt around any criticism when something needs improvement.

But delivering negative feedback isn’t always easy—in fact, for many of us, it’s downright uncomfortable. Let’s dive deeper into how to give team members negative feedback so that everyone feels at ease and productive during the process.

Read on to learn how you can best set up your expectations for employees and how to use empathy and kindness during a potentially challenging encounter with an employee. We’ll also discuss some key tips on giving honest yet kind feedback so both parties feel that something positive has come out of the situation.

Check out this blog by celebrity motivational speaker Steve Gilliland about skills required by managers to effectively resolve conflicts at the workplace.

When’s the Right Time to Give an Employee Negative Feedback?

No one likes getting criticism, and opening up a conversation about your team member’s mistakes can be difficult for any manager.

However, it’s important to remember that providing constructive comments can actually help foster growth in the workplace. After all, you don’t want your employees making the same errors over and over without learning from them.

Knowing when to give negative feedback is essential if you want to see progress and success from your team members.

You might come across various reasons your employee’s performance is not meeting expectations. But whether those hurdles are personal or professional, addressing them before the situation escalates is of utmost importance. Examples of workplace problems include lack of attention to detail, missing deadlines, lack of team engagement, or and office gossip.

Motivational speaker Steve Gilliland suggests scheduling a time with your employees to address these problems head-on.

A boss talking to an employee

A Few of the Best Ways to Deliver Negative Feedback

Let’s look at a few ways you can deal with this situation.

1. Create a Safe Environment

When employees are in an environment that inspires trust, they are more open to listening to and engaging with the feedback offered. It also allows employers to provide constructive feedback without belittling or embarrassing the employees, which is key in helping them actually make changes and reach their goals.

Pointing out problematic behaviors and thought processes without fear of ridicule or consequences lets both parties create an honest dialogue that can lead to improvement. Therefore, creating a safe environment while healthily giving negative feedback is invaluable.

2. Don’t Make It Personal

We all need constructive criticism from time to time as a way of helping us improve and grow. That being said, when you are providing feedback to an employee, it’s best not to make it personal ― i.e., sharing your opinion about who the person is or their work ethic.

If you still want to address their behavior, explain why it has been unacceptable and focus on professional standards and company effectiveness instead. There are more constructive ways to provide honest yet encouraging feedback that will empower employees and potentially create a better work environment―leading to improved performance.

A few employees discussing issues at a workplace

3. Be Mindful of Your Tone

It can be beneficial to pay close attention to the tone and body language you use while delivering this feedback. A tone of negativity will make people feel unwelcome or unvalued. In contrast, a more empathetic approach can soften the blow.

When giving negative feedback, try to maintain a conversational yet firm tone to build respect between you and your employees. Do your best to remain courteous and open-minded throughout the conversation, presenting yourself as someone who wants―not demands―progress from your employees.

Remember, being mindful of your tone and body language can help create a more positive atmosphere for everyone.

4. Listen to What Your Employee Has to Say

Another key factor in providing effective feedback is listening. It’s essential to listen carefully to what the employee has to say before starting a dialogue about any areas that need improvement.

Showing that you have taken an interest in understanding their perspective can help create a positive atmosphere for discussion and give the person receiving the feedback some valuable insight into their performance. Listening also allows you to respond constructively and show empathy toward the other person, both crucial components of delivering effective negative feedback.

A boss shakng hands with an employee

5. Provide Positive Feedback

Feedback to employees is an essential part of workplace culture, but providing positive and negative feedback can be a tricky balancing act. On the one hand, it’s important to show appreciation and reward effort where it’s due. Still, on the other, it’s essential to provide honest critiques and ensure expectations are being met.

Giving constructive feedback requires prioritizing kindness and respect over aggression―otherwise, it might backfire. When giving feedback, try to phrase your remarks in terms that emphasize positivity.

Keep criticism professional and focus on offering solutions wherever possible. Employers who follow this model can significantly benefit from improved morale among their team members and higher productivity rates. The bottom line is that positive feedback comforts employees while reinforcing good habits―providing a more effective way of ensuring better results than simply pointing out mistakes.

6. Provide Your Employees with the Resources to Help Them Succeed

If your employee knows they are struggling, it doesn’t mean they have to go through it alone. Let them know there are great resources and support available, like mental health services, for example, if they ever need it.

Ensure that your employees feel empowered and connected, with tools and prosocial resources at their fingertips, should they ever need to reach out. Reassuring your employees of these resources will help ensure they don’t mindlessly push through any struggles and instead actively practice self-care.

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How Can You Handle the Situation If an Employee Reacts Unexpectedly to Negative Feedback?

When your employee reacts unexpectedly to negative feedback, it can be tricky to handle the situation. An important step is to stay calm and acknowledge their emotional response. You can do this by validating their feelings and thanking them for being open with you.

It’s also important to remember that since it took effort for your employee to communicate their feeling, this is an opportunity for growth. Set aside a few minutes to focus on the current issue. Suggesting ways your employee can improve the situation and offering resources or suggestions before concluding the conversation can help keep things productive. Additionally, allowing them time to reflect on what was discussed will give your employee closure that encourages self-improvement.

Next Steps After Providing Negative Feedback

First, it’s important to remain respectful and have meaningful dialogue with the employee to understand their perspective. The conversation can ultimately outline actionable steps they can take to improve their performance going forward.

It’s also important that management provides additional resources like tools or workshops to help the employee develop their skills. This allows them to accurately assess and track their progress, setting them up for success. Effectively addressing negative feedback fosters a positive work environment and helps build a stronger team.

People taking notes while a business motivational speaker is speaking to them

Steve Gilliland is a powerful voice in the business world today. His insights on what it takes to succeed – both as an individual and a company – are right on point and address some of the most common obstacles employers and employees face. He reminds us that there’s no advancement without passion and a willingness to learn and grow. And he reminds companies of the value of workers who feel seen and heard.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Steve’s work, we highly recommend his one-of-a-kind Motivation Bites. These short videos are useful tools for anyone unable to attend his keynote speeches in person.

Bringing Steve to your organization to deliver a keynote address in person also yields powerful results. Book Steve today and see how a corporate motivational speaker can bring a spark to your organization.

Our teachers and staff are Steve Gilliland fans! We have always invested in our employees, and this has been one of the best outlays to date. Your topics resonate with everyone, and it is a wonderful way for us to stay engaged with every employee who works in our district. Thanks for providing a professional development asset that goes way beyond a single event.”   – Michael Hough, Superintendent, Holden R-III School District