How to Give Negative Feedback as a Manager: Our 8 Best Tips

Feedback meetings can be intimidating for both you and your team – especially if you’re providing negative or constructive feedback. Importantly, though, providing negative feedback is not a bad thing! It’s an important way to help your team grow  and build a better work environment. Read on to learn how to give negative feedback in ways that work for you and your whole team. 

Your AI-powered meeting assistant — Huddles

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What is considered negative feedback?

Negative feedback is constructive criticism you deliver to a team member about their work or behavior. You’re best off delivering negative feedback shortly after something happens instead of pairing it with positive feedback in a performance review meeting. 

Critical feedback can feel terrible to give – and not all team members are great at receiving negative feedback. However, constructive criticism shared kindly and in good faith has an undeniable impact on employee productivity and performance. Your goal should be to help team members learn from their mistakes so they can be their best selves at work. Being transparent with your team member and ensuring they understand that this feedback is being given in hopes to help them grow and succeed in their job is crucial.

8 Tips on how to give negative feedback

Delivering negative feedback can feel uncomfortable, but it can be done well. The below eight tips can help you deliver negative feedback effectively whether you’re speaking with a new hire or someone who’s always led the pack. 

1.Make sure your emotions are balanced

Giving negative feedback the right way means being in the right mindset to do so. As in, if you’re feeling angry or upset, you could come off more harsh than you mean to – not a great look. It’s probably best to save the meeting for another day.

You want the person you’re speaking with to be in a good mood as well, so they’re more receptive to your feedback. This way, you can both have a better conversation without anyone getting defensive. 

2.Schedule a feedback meeting

When you deliver feedback, you should always consider how you would like to receive it. You wouldn’t want to be asked to meet without warning or called out in front of everyone else, right? So Instead of pulling someone aside or speaking to them in front of the entire team, schedule a feedback meeting. This shows that you respect your team members, and since it’s just you two, the other person might feel more comfortable opening up to you. 

3.Talk about work and behavior, not the person

When you give feedback, tie it to a specific behavior instead of faulting the individual. For example, if a team member has been mishandling client meetings, you should offer suggestions on how they can improve. You shouldn’t say “you did a bad job” – that’s how you make someone feel embarrassed or attacked. And how will they learn and grow then?

4.Give feedback soon after something happens 

Timing is everything, especially when you’re giving negative feedback. That means providing negative feedback as soon as possible after something goes wrong. Calling in your team members right when things happen means they can start improving in real-time. It’s a great way to get folks changing their behavior now rather than letting it continue for weeks or months. 

5.Don’t delay negative feedback with compliments 

Some managers compliment their team members at the start of a constructive feedback meeting, and while that’s understandable, it’s not a good idea. Buttering up your team members before letting them down can actually work against you. Think about it: Doesn’t it hurt more when you fall from farther above? Dive in right away with honest feedback about any issues and show the other person how to improve. 

6.Be specific

You’re giving constructive criticism to help your team members do better work. Feedback they can’t act on won’t help here. Your feedback should be specific so the team member knows exactly what steps they should take to improve. For example, instead of saying, “You didn’t fill out this form correctly,” you should tell them what isn’t right and how they should fix it. 

7.Have a conversation

Yes, you’re talking to your team member about their performance or behavior, but you’re not talking at them – you’re talking with them. Ditch the lecture and go for more of a conversation between you two. Once you’ve addressed the issue, give your team member some time to respond and ask questions. 

8.Create an action plan and follow up 

Telling someone what they’re doing wrong can only go so far. It’s a great start, but without action, it’s just an idea. You and your team member should create an action plan to cover specific performance goals and timeframes to achieve them. You should also schedule a few dates to meet and keep talking about their progress – and how you can keep helping them improve. 

The importance of giving negative feedback

Although delivering negative feedback can be difficult, it’s super important for any great team. Below are some reasons why you should give negative feedback whenever it becomes necessary.

1.Improves team performance

Your team members aren’t mind-readers. They’re not always going to know they’re doing anything wrong unless you give them feedback. Once they receive the feedback, they’ll be more likely to do better work to meet (or exceed) the standards you’ve set. 

2.Makes you a better manager

Once you learn how to give negative feedback the right way, you’ll probably feel more confident. And the more your team takes well to your negative feedback, the more you’ll feel excited and prepared to coach your team to success. You’ll also get more comfortable regularly checking in with your team to see how everything is going. 

3.Clears up your expectations

Constructive feedback is a great way to make your expectations crystal-clear. After it, your team will know how to do each of their tasks exactly the right way. That’s a great way to reduce anxiety, confusion, and all that unhelpful emotion across the office (or the Slack channel if your team is remote). 

4.Helps employees feel supported

Although negative feedback isn’t always fun to hear, it still is better than no feedback at all. If anything, feedback – whether positive or negative – shows that you’re paying attention. That’s a bat signal to team members that you care, and most importantly, that you want to help them grow. 

5.Allows for questions

A feedback meeting is the perfect opportunity for your team members to ask questions – just about any questions at all. This way, once they leave the meeting, they have a better idea of what you expect of them moving forward. From there, they can do better work – and, since they know what they’re doing, enjoy it too. 

6.Improves work quality

This might sound like a broken record at this point, but: Negative feedback shouldn’t make your team feel like they’re doing their job wrong. Your goal is to help them do better work. When you show your team what they’re doing wrong and put together an action plan to improve, they’ll usually do better work. 

7.Promotes loyalty

When you give feedback effectively – even if it’s negative – your team members will more likely feel supported and seen. That can make them feel happier and more satisfied at work, which has two great benefits. For starters, it means your team will work harder and care more about their work. It also means they’re less likely to leave your team and work elsewhere. 

Give feedback the right way with Huddles 

Providing negative feedback to your team members can improve their work. To give the best feedback, you’ll need a tool that gets feedback from your team and schedules meetings to chat about it all. With Huddles, you can request feedback, create collaborative agendas, and take notes for all your feedback meetings. You can focus on helping your team thrive all from one streamlined platform.

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