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The Essential Guide: How To Give (And Receive) Negative Feedback

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Done properly, negative – or as I prefer to call it, constructive – feedback can have a positive effect, helping to improve performance, productivity and motivation. Nonetheless, giving (and receiving) negative feedback is something most people find awkward. Even worse, if it’s not done carefully, it can have a very detrimental effect on the employee’s engagement and performance.

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The Essential Guide: How To Give (And Receive) Negative Feedback

  1. How To Give (And Receive) Negative Feedback The Essential Guide
  2. © 2018 Bernard Marr, Bernard Marr & Co. All rights reserved Giving & Receiving Negative Feedback Introduction Done properly, negative – or as I prefer to call it, constructive – feedback can have a positive effect, helping to improve performance, productivity and motivation. Nonetheless, giving (and receiving) negative feedback is something most people find awkward. If it’s not done carefully, it can have a very detrimental effect on the employee’s engagement and performance.
  3. © 2018 Bernard Marr, Bernard Marr & Co. All rights reserved Organizational Culture Is Key The overall culture within the organisation plays a significant role in how feedback is received. Everyone at every level of a business has things they want to get better at. How many people do you know who don’t want to get better at their job? I certainly do. The beauty of constructive feedback is that it helps us identify those areas for development and find ways to improve our performance. Therefore, the best kind of company culture is one where negative feedback is seen as something positive. A culture where self-evaluation and self-awareness thrives, and people actively seek out opportunities to learn and grow. In order to achieve this, the business needs to cultivate a supportive environment where people are encouraged and helped to learn.
  4. © 2018 Bernard Marr, Bernard Marr & Co. All rights reserved In practical terms, a good performance management culture means regular conversations between managers and their direct reports. An annual performance conversation just won’t cut it. It needs to be at least monthly, but ideally weekly. Some weeks that might mean a quick “everything’s ticking along fine” conversation. Some weeks are an opportunity to give praise when things are going brilliantly. And some weeks, when things haven’t gone so well, it means looking at what can be done differently in future. Regular pulse surveys will also help to foster a culture of continuous feedback, where everyone is generally more aware and able to identify opportunities to do better.
  5. © 2018 Bernard Marr, Bernard Marr & Co. All rights reserved The best way to give negative feedback is to have a supportive conversation – you know, like normal human beings. On paper that sounds easy. But in practice, fear, anxiety and just general awkwardness can make that conversation a lot more difficult. The following steps will help strip the awkwardness away, so you can deliver negative feedback in a more constructive, positive way: Don’t store up negative feedback. If you keep putting it off, you just end up overwhelming someone with a long list of their faults. Instead, create a process where feedback (both positive and negative) is given regularly, ideally weekly. Strip out emotions. Don’t act awkward and apologetic. Don’t be mean or aggressive. This is a time for a frank, straightforward conversation to help your employee perform better. How To Deliver Constructive Feedback
  6. © 2018 Bernard Marr, Bernard Marr & Co. All rights reserved Balance the negative with positive … but at the right time. Experts disagree on whether it’s a good idea to soften negative comments with praise. Personally, I believe everyone needs to hear praise, but it shouldn’t dilute what you really need to say. So absolutely offer lots of regular positive reinforcement, but not when you’re giving negative feedback. Ask plenty of questions. Questions like “What was your thought process for X?” or “What do you think could be done better” not only encourages self-awareness and assessment, it can also help you understand any underlying issues. For example, the answers might reveal a simple miscommunication or lack of understanding that could be easily rectified.
  7. © 2018 Bernard Marr, Bernard Marr & Co. All rights reserved Keep it factual. Using concrete examples will help you stick to the facts and strip out emotions. So state two or three examples, and give the employee a chance to respond to each. It might also be helpful to discuss performance and expectations in relation to the job description. Are they not keeping up with one specific area of the role? Again, this is something concrete and factual, not an opinion or emotion. Agree specific actions for the future. But be sure to keep the focus on the positive results and behaviours you’d like to see, not a list of orders on what to do, how to do it and when to do it. Follow up regularly. Check in against the agreed goals and actions on a regular basis. For example, if you’re having weekly meetings, you could revisit the action points every three or four weeks.
  8. © 2018 Bernard Marr, Bernard Marr & Co. All rights reserved Receiving Negative Feedback The flip side of giving feedback is inviting and accepting feedback. When a colleague or direct report gives you some honest feedback in return, your reaction might surprise you! If you really believe giving constructive feedback helps your people to improve their performance, then this is a great opportunity to practise what you preach. So, rather than taking it personally or getting defensive, try these steps instead: Don’t react straight away. A little distance will help you cut through the emotions, so take your time to reflect on what you’ve been told. Give yourself an honest self-evaluation and ask yourself, “How could I do this better?” Consider concrete practical examples, just as you would when giving feedback. Identify key learning points and actions that will help you do a better job. Check in regularly on your progress, both in terms of an honest self- evaluation and asking others for feedback.
  9. © 2018 Bernard Marr, Bernard Marr & Co. All rights reserved Where To Go From Here If you would like to know more about KPIs and HR effectiveness, check out my articles: Measuring Employee Performance with 360 Degree Feedback How to Measure HR Effectiveness Why eNPS is a Great Way of Measuring Staff Engagement Or browse the KPI Library to find the metrics that matter most to you.
  10. © 2017 Bernard Marr , Bernard Marr & Co. All rights reserved © 2018 Bernard Marr, Bernard Marr & Co. All rights reserved Bernard Marr is an internationally best-selling author, popular keynote speaker, futurist, and a strategic business & technology advisor to governments and companies. He helps organisations improve their business performance, use data more intelligently, and understand the implications of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, blockchains, and the Internet of Things. LinkedIn has ranked Bernard as one of the world’s top 5 business influencers. He is a frequent contributor to the World Economic Forum and writes a regular column for Forbes. Every day Bernard actively engages his 1.5 million social media followers and shares content that reaches millions of readers. Visit The Website
  11. BernardMarr hello@bernardmarr.com www.bernardmarr.com

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