It’s Hard to Give Negative Feedback. You Should Do It Anyway.

Author: Casey Gale       

As difficult as it can be for an employee to receive negative feedback from a superior, it turns out that those in charge dread providing less-than-rosy feedback even more.

Forty-four percent of managers find it stressful and difficult to give negative feedback, according to an article posted in the Quartz Obsession newsletter. In fact, it causes those in leadership positions so much anxiety that 20 percent avoid it altogether. The problem with that is that 40 percent of workers become actively disengaged when they receive little or no feedback. So when leaders fail to communicate with their employees — even if it is negative feedback — they are impacting the success of the entire organization.

Remedies are offered by way of a previously published article, which outline ways to have these kinds discussions to help staff thrive. “It’s important to remember that no one wins when we avoid difficult conversations, and it’s dangerous to delay critical feedback,” authors Leah Fessler and Khe Hy wrote. “A good rule of thumb is not waiting more than 24 hours, as the specific details will start to fade away and both the feedback giver and receiver will selectively remember what transpired.”

Fessler and Hy also remind leaders that talking at employees instead of to employees is never helpful. Feedback should be a two-way street between boss and employee that maintains a 50-50 split between questions and statements during a feedback session “to avoid the appearance of lecturing.”

In addition to avoiding providing negative feedback, 40 percent of managers also fail to provide positive reinforcement to their employees — also a big no-no, according to Fessler and Hy. Another expert in the story warned against delivering a “sh*t sandwich,” which is sandwiching negative feedback between two “slices” of praise.

“Ample research shows that giving positive feedback increases employees’ sense that they’re learning and growing at their jobs, makes them feel valued, and leads to increased confidence and competence,” they wrote.

Delivering feedback is difficult partly because our “humanness can interfere with the message and intent,” they added. “But when done correctly, it’s a win-win situation.”

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