When constructive feedback goes wrong. How can we change the outcome?

Many managers have been in a position when they start with good intentions hoping that the employee will accept the feedback and adapt their behaviour.  What makes it more difficult is when the team member is otherwise a great performer.  Some people simply have real difficulty distinguishing any feedback on their performance or behaviour, from feedback on who they are as a person. Unconsciously they might feel like feedback is deeply damaging to their self-esteem, and may struggle to cope emotionally.

Feedback can trigger the the fight, flight and freeze response.  What can we do?  Is it possible that we are helping to create the outcome we most dread?

How to deliver feedback

  1. Set the scene

Make your intentions clear in your own mind.

  1. Plan

Plan the meeting by giving specific examples that will help the employee understand what the they are doing and what the affect it is having versus what the desired standard is.

  1. Have courage

These feedback sessions can be stressful, both for the manager, and for the employee, but should not be the reason to delay uncomfortable conversations. If you delay you are allowing the employee to continue their poor performance and setting them up to fail.

  1. Focus on development

Include development in the meeting and provide some feedback that will help the employee grow as a future leader

  1. Give hope

Include in your conversation with the employee that they are valued and let them see their potential for future growth.  Do not make promises but turn the negative into a positive and get the employee onboard to change what they are doing.

  1. Describe the current gap in expected performance or behaviour

Firstly, describe the gap in performance with respect to how this gap is limiting the employee’s development and growth.

Then be as specific as possible in describing the gap in performance or behaviour versus what the expected standard is. Provide examples and keep it very simple. Provide for silence to ensure the employee fully understands what it is.

  1. Give the employee time to respond

Their response will provide you with some insight into their perspective and will assist in finding a solution through coaching.  Ask the employee if they need assistance in closing the gap. You need to stay positive in that you want the employee to succeed.

  1. Agree on a actions and wrap up the meeting

Discuss actions the employee will take and put in review dates.  It is important that the employee and the manager both write it down to show commitment.

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