Most leaders want to provide feedback that will help their employees improve. Sadly, many managers provide feedback that makes employees feel bad about themselves and their job.
According to Peter Bregman and Howie Jacobson, coauthors of You Can Change Other People, feedback, especially if labeled “constructive,” virtually always lowers employee engagement.
However, there are ways to provide feedback that are both difficult and beneficial to employees. Here are some tried-and-true methods.
An ally in improvement is far preferable to a performance critic. As a result, it’s critical to approach employee input as an ally.
Step one is to empathize. Recognize that if employees are having difficulties, it must be unpleasant or aggravating to face this every day.
Step 2: Boost your self-assurance. Inform employees that you believe they are capable of handling the matter.
Step 3: Obtain approval. Inquire if they are willing to discuss the matter and possible solutions with you.
You can be persuaded to review the “issue” if employees grant you permission to look into the situation and hunt for solutions. Don’t!
According to the authors, this is simply a return to negative feedback. Instead, concentrate on the “energizing future” that they can bring about.
“What are you hoping to achieve here?” you might inquire.
Then give them time and space to describe what they’re attempting to accomplish or overcome for themselves and the company. Assist them in turning this into a positive, clear, and meaningful outcome.
You can return to the problem once you’ve figured out the final outcome. However, you do not have to treat it as a problem to be fixed.
Instead, you can now frame it as something that might assist them in achieving the intended result. Perhaps it provides an opportunity to put a new behavior into practice. Or it could be pointing to a larger (or even smaller) underlying problem that needs to be addressed – and that attention will cure the problem.