As a manager it is critical to be able to effectively manage a feedback session so that you get positive results and improved performance instead of a disgruntled employee. Are you prepared for unexpected reactions from employees? Make sure you have the ability to respond appropriately and leverage your feedback for growth!
There are two key strategies that can be employed as part of feedback to prevent a negative or defensive response from an employee.
- Be Mindful of the Process – When facilitating feedback it is critical to be mindful of the wording being used. There are certain key phrases that can negatively impact a feedback session. Avoid starting a sentence with the word “you” during a feedback session as it places blame on an employee and will immediately put the employee on the defensive.
- Instead of saying “You are always late for work.” Try saying, “I am concerned about your current start time. I have you on the schedule to be at work for 9:00 am but I notice that you have arrived at 9:30 am every day this week.“
- Instead of saying “You are not meeting the company’s performance expectations. You will need to make some immediate improvements.” Try saying “I have outlined the company’s performance expectations and I notice that you have missed a couple of the targets. Let’s review them together and come up with an action plan for improvement.“
- Instead of saying “You need to start being more polite to our customers.” Try saying “I notice that you have been short with some of our customers lately. Can you help me understand why?“
- Avoid Assumptions – Sometimes a manager will hear from other employees about an incident, a professionalism issue or ongoing inappropriate conduct. Rather than making assumptions or taking the information at face value it is critical to talk with the employee first and then come to a decision as to whether or not a plan of action is required. There is always two sides to the story and it is the manager’s responsibility to get a clear understanding of exactly what has occurred from all parties involved.
The following phrases can be used to open up a feedback session involving second hand information
- “I want to discuss some information that has been brought to my attention and I am hoping you can help me by providing some clarification.”
- “I was made aware of a situation that occurred last week and I wanted to take some time and talk with you about it.“
- “I was wondering if you could help me understand what happened between you and Bridget the other day.“
When discussing second hand information with an employee be prepared for the employee to express confusion or deny that the issue even occurred. When an employee feigns ignorance or denies the occurrence of an incident a manager can ask the employee “Do you have any idea why someone might want to make a false complaint about you?” or “Is there anything going on with the team that may make them believe that you did this?“
It is important for managers not to make assumptions as to why an employee chose to do or say something. Instead of making assumptions the manager should schedule a feedback session to discuss the issue with the employee and then provide feedback and create an action plan for improvement.
A person’s life experience and personality traits will play a role in how he or she responds to constructive feedback. It is important for managers to tailor the feedback session and delivery to the employee that they are meeting with. Some employees prefer feedback delivered in a direct and to-the-point manner while other employees prefer delivery of feedback in a more empathetic and understanding manner with significant time set aside for discussion.
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