Providing negative feedback constructively
Hi everyone. Hope you all are doing great. It’s a nice day-a little cloudy right now, but I’m sure it will get sunny and really hot later on. Today I want to talk about how to provide negative feedback efficiently, effectively and in the right manner. This is equally important in your personal life and in your work life. There is a right way of doing it, and there is a wrong way of providing negative feedback. Once you understand the difference, and you focus on doing it the right way, life will get a lot easier, and you will continue to develop, maintain and grow positive relationships, and live a more happier balanced and fulfilled life. So how do you do that?
Steps involved in giving negative feedback
The first and foremost thing is-you don’t attack the person; you be firm but polite, and respectfully talk about the behavior of the person, how that made you feel, why that was not appropriate and the impact of that behavior. Remember, it’s not about the person, but what action they took.
Number two, when you provide feedback, particularly when it’s negative, you need to do it in a way that focuses on the path moving forward. The feedback should be constructive, and not destructive. What does that mean? That means you’re appreciating what the person did, and you’re giving them the benefit of the doubt. But, at the same time, you’re clearly explaining to them, why what they did was inappropriate, and the impact it had on you and the organization. You also share with them, what would have been a better way of doing what they did. To summarize, you cover-what he/she did, why it was incorrect or inappropriate, the negative impact of their action, what could have been done differently, and moving forward, what you suggest they do differently.
Impact of providing negative feedback constructively
When you follow this framework, the other person gets the feedback in a constructive way. Hopefully, they will be able to absorb that feedback, implement it correctly and move forward. I was in a situation a few days ago at work, where one of the delivery managers sent out an email asking for an update because they hadn’t received one. They had copied a lot of people, including senior leaders on their email. That rubs people the wrong way. I got an escalation from my manager saying- “Who the hell is this person? And why are they chasing down people and copying everybody?” I had to pick up the phone and talk to that person.
That’s the other thing. Feedback is best when it is provided in a direct way, one on one, rather than via an email. I picked up the phone, called that person and I explained to him- I said, “John, what you did had so and so impact (explain the impact specifically and clearly). Even though you may not have intended it to be like that, that’s what happened. So instead of doing it like that, I would have preferred if you had called me and not copied leadership on it, because so and so person is very picky and finicky, and they get all hassled about stuff like this. Your action caused problems. So, a better way of doing it would have been… (explain the better way specifically and clearly).”
When I explained it in this manner, John understood. John is very competent but was on vacation. When they got back, there was a lack of communication. People had not apprised John of the most recent status and the update. As a result, he got into a panic and started shooting people on email and copying leadership unnecessarily.
I didn’t attack John, but I explained the impact of his behavior. I told him moving forward to call me if he had any questions, instead of shooting an email and copying leadership. He understood and apologized. He mentioned that next time, he will take a different course of action. That’s the goal-you want to work with these people moving forward, you don’t want to subvert the relationship, you want to continue and maintain the relationship. When you provide feedback in this manner, that’s exactly what happens-the relationship continues to grow.
You can even say, “John, I value your input- I value you, and the role you play. But I want to provide you with this constructive feedback and advice that will make you more effective moving forward.” When you position it like that, you make it about them; you make it about helping them improve and get better. That’s what everybody wants. At the end of the day, don’t attack the person, focus on helping them get better; help them achieve their goals, their desires, and their ambitions.
Do it in a way that’s humane, and respectful. You should be firm and specific-don’t beat around the bush; you need to be direct. If you don’t tell them, they’ll continue with the bad behavior. It’s your responsibility to tell them. The bottom line is, have empathy and do unto others as you would like others to do to you.
For additional questions, or to schedule a complimentary session on providing negative feedback effectively to grow the quality of your relationships at work and at home, email me at email@example.com