Mike Dorman
67 answers

Most leaders are comfortable giving negative feedback to employees. The fear of hurting people’s feelings and dealing with potential drama holds them back. But most of their staff want to get more feedback from their managers, which is why giving it early and regularly is critical.

Respectful, direct feedback costs nothing but makes big improvement in individual and team productivity. Right feedback creates better collaboration, bonding, and sustainable change. In its absence, teams become ineffective. Leaders become irrelevant.

So, the next time you need to give difficult feedback to an employee, use these tips:

1. Be Direct, but Kind — Don’t beat around the bush. Include specific examples of desired behaviors to illustrate what you mean.

2. Listen — This provides a space in which both people feel respected. In a recent global study respondents were asked to rate their managers on the extent to which they “carefully listened to the other person’s point of view before giving them feedback.” Respondents who rated their managers as effective listeners felt more positively about the manager’s ability to provide feedback. Respondents who didn't, rated their manager lower on providing honest feedback.

3. Don’t Make it Personal — Imagined slights and malice are toxic, but if you acknowledge the emotions being felt, you open a relief valve for the stress.

4. Be Present — Show up fully for the discussion, and don’t rush off once it’s over. Follow up later so afterthoughts don’t create imagined distance.

5. Inspire Greatness — Be sure to communicate your aspirations for the person you’re giving feedback to.