In my line of work I often meet people who struggle to provide negative and constructive feedback to their staff or colleagues. When I explore this with them, it is often the fear of not being liked or ‘getting an earful’ from the individual that holds them back. Consequently, managers are often putting up with poor performance and sometimes quite frankly, bad behaviour rather than confront (and resolve) the issue.
So here I am going to share my tips for delivering constructive feedback which maintains relationships and gets results!
Top Tip 1: Pause and Remain Calm
When giving feedback it is important that you are calm and rational. Therefore, if you are angry about a situation, then ensure you take a step back and pause before you give feedback. If you give feedback immediately, then the chances are you will say something you regret – and this will not be constructive!
Top Tip 2: Plan
Plan carefully what you are going to say. Ensure that everything you plan to say is factual and is about the issue, not the person.
Top tip 3: Confidential
Make sure you deliver what you plan to say, in private. If the person receiving the feedback is going to continue to trust and respect you, then they must feel that what is being said is confidential.
Top tip 4: Look them in the Eye
Delivering feedback needs to be seen as sincere. If you cannot look at the individual you are giving feedback to, they may not take it seriously. If you look them in the eye they will have more trust and respect for you and they will feel listened to, when they are given the opportunity to speak.
Top Tip 5: Describe Their Behaviour
This is quite simple – describe the behaviour that they undertook in an objective and adult way. For example if a member of staff is consistently turning up late for work say, “John, I have noticed that on the last three mornings you have arrived at work at twenty past nine when you’re contracted to arrive at 9 o’clock.” Or if dealing with a member of staff who has shouted at another colleague, “Sarah, this morning I noticed that you shouted at John in front of your work colleagues and you called him “Lazy and stupid”.”
Top Tip 6: Describe the Impact and Consequences
This is where you can describe how the behaviour has impacted upon you (and team if necessary) and the consequences. This raises awareness in the individual that their behaviour has a negative impact. In the case of John being late you might say, “This leaves us in a difficult position when people ring up to ask for you as we cannot tell them your whereabouts and staff feel that they are having to cover for you.” In the case of Sarah you might say, “Myself and colleagues felt very uncomfortable when you did this. We felt that your reaction humiliated John in front of colleagues and it felt that relationships in the office were strained all morning. John has since said that he feels your actions undermined him in front of people who previously respected him.”
Top tip 7: Resolve
This is where you can ask the individual what happened from their point of view and how they can ensure this does not happen again. Equally, you can state what behaviour you expect from them in the future. So you may say to John when he is late, “John, we need you to be in the office by 9am every morning as this is what your contract states. If you are unable to do this then we need to consider renegotiating your contract. What do you want to say?” Or in the case of Sarah, “If you have an issue with a colleague in future please can you ensure that you discuss it with them in private and that you deliver your message in an objective and constructive way; and in a manner which is supportive”, (and perhaps share this article)!
Yvonne Vigar is a Leadership and Performance Coach at Astara Coaching www.astara-coaching.co.uk