5 effective tips to give negative feedback to employees without impacting their motivation levels

Giving feedback is one of the key managerial responsibilities, which when fulfilled in the right manner can help in enhancing employee engagement and motivation levels.  While most managers find it easy to offer positive feedback to the employees, they often feel extremely stressed and quite ill-at-ease while providing negative feedback. It is really not at all surprising as providing negative feedback often makes managers feel like wading into extremely delicate territory. They are not sure about the impact of such corrective feedback on the employees and their motivation.  In fact, most managers feel that negative feedback may leave the employees completely demotivated and deflated, and it may eventually lead to an exit.

Need to deliver negative feedback appropriately

The aforementioned fears of managers are mostly true because most such professionals tend to offer negative feedback without much thought or consideration. They are unaware of the fact that while most employees are willing to receive constructive feedback, but it needs to be delivered appropriately to generate the desired outcome. If delivered in an inappropriate manner, employees tend to be less receptive to any constructive criticism and this may result in their lack of interest for improvement. On the other hand, negative feedback delivered in the right manner can help turn it into an extremely powerful tool for personal development and performance improvement.

Tips to deliver negative feedback effectively

When it comes to delivering negative feedback effectively, most managers feel unsure about the best way to do so. Discussed below are five effective tips that can help managers face this challenging task better and help them turn this seemingly difficult situation into a favorable one:

  1. Choose the right moment

Choosing the right moment to deliver constructive feedback is of utmost importance. It is best for the mangers to first let their initial emotions of anger and frustration towards the concerned employees subside before delivering corrective feedback. It is also important to ensure that the managers hold any such conversations in private and on a one-to-one basis. Laying out their concerns before the employee in question with a level head is the key to turning the conversation positive and getting the desired outcomes from it.

  1. Avoid beating around the bush

It is a common perception that the best way to deliver negative feedback is by sandwiching it between two positive comments about the employee.  However, this often proves to be a bad idea in real-life situations as it often results in the employees completely ignoring the corrective feedback and focusing only on the positive comments. So rather than beating around the bush, it is advisable for the managers to adopt a more direct approach while detailing the shortcomings of the employees. This ensures that the employees fully understand the outcomes of their performance assessment and the steps they need to take to get more positive feedback in the future.

  1. Use words that reflect optimism

The choice and tone of words while delivering negative feedback can play a key role in determining how it is received by the employees. Using language that reflects optimism and a sense of belief in the employees is more likely to provide positive results. The managers, rather than focusing on the faults and drawbacks of the employees, should draw their attention to their achievements despite these shortcomings, Using growth-oriented language is known to stimulate greater behavior changes and make the employees feel more inclined to take the necessary steps to overcome their weaknesses and rectify their faults. Example: If you focus more on unit testing, you will spend less time on rework and your modules will get completed faster.

  1. Avoid making the employee feel defensive

One of the biggest mistakes committed by managers while delivering negative performance assessment feedback is to make them feel defensive. This generally happens when the managers choose to focus more on the personality shortcomings of the employees rather than their observed behavior drawbacks. When faced with such direct criticism, the employees start focusing on the best arguments they can provide to counter the feedback rather than trying to internalize the information being provided. This naturally proves counterproductive for the employees, managers and most importantly the organization.

  1. Listen to what the employee has to say

At the time of giving negative feedback, the manager should make sure that they provide ample opportunity for the employees to express their views. They should listen clearly to what the employees have to say without interrupting them unless it is absolutely necessary. This simple initiative can enhance the effectiveness of performance management quite significantly. It will help the managers understand the fears, personal challenges, or other factors that might be impacting the performance of the employees and hindering their growth. This information can then be used to take corrective measures for improving employee performance and ensuring their better growth and development.

One of the most important things for managers to remember while delivering negative feedback to employees is to reaffirm their confidence in them. The managers should never cast any doubt on the commitment of the employee to his or her job and to the organization. They should then move the discussion in a direction so as to get a positive outcome despite the negative feedback.

5 effective tips to give negative feedback to employees without impacting their motivation levels

HiFives Team

HiFives is a global software-as-a-service platform for employee rewards and recognition. The HiFives team partners with its clients to understand, design and deliver employee rewards and recognition program through the HiFives platform incorporating industry best practices and thought leadership.

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