Why You Musn’t Be Afraid Of Giving Negative Feedback (1)

Why You Musn’t Be Afraid Of Giving Negative Feedback (1)

November 20, 2010 Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

Did you ever have to give negative feedback to your folks ?

How does it feel for you to tell one of your folks that he or she just sucked in a given task?

A few years ago I had to tell one of my folks that his presentation was at the level of a 5-year-old child and not of an adult industrial engineer.

It sounds quite funny but believe me: this conversation has been no fun at all to me.
The result? The relationship between this employee and me is incriminated even today!

I guess most executives (as most human beings) don’t like to tell their employees that something they did was really bad in some kind.

And you know what? That’s pretty normal.

Since the day I started my career it has alwas been a very unliked task to me to have such conversations. They always stressed me and made me feel bad somehow.

Perhaps I disliked the emotional rollercoaster during such conversations and the struggle that often resulted from them.

Today I see things totally different. Today I would tell you to be grateful for each possibility where you’re able to give honest negative feedback to someone.

Why? Because I’ve completely changed my attitude towards negative feedback.

Today I would even name it differently: constructive criticism instead of negative feedback? How does that sound wink ?

But it’s not just the words that changed, it’s the meaning that changed for me too.

And I guess that this is exactly the point why so many executives have problems with negative feedback. They simply have a wrong understanding of what negative feedback affects within the people it is given to.

And the range of the affected results is wide.

Do you believe that negative feedback would incriminate the relationship to your folks? Do you think that it could kill the motivation that you have build up so hardly in the past?

Yes, this could definitely happen when you suck in delivering the message adequately, honestly and well prepared.

So what I want to do now is to show you some basics that really helped me a lot to plan such feedback meetings.

Just follow these simple rules and you will never ever be afraid of giving negative feedback to anybody.

Ready? So let’s have a look at what negative feedback really aims for…

What Is Negative Feedback?

Negative Feedback is a leadership tool that helps you to change the behavior of your employees.

With the help of negative feedback you’re able to express that something really¬† bothers you and that exactly this something has to be changed.

Changing the behavior of your folks is not just you’re right as executive … it’s also your duty if the complaint influences your daily business negatively in some way.

But you have to be careful with complaints. As soon as something arises that really makes you peeved at something you’re instantly confronted with two challenges:

1) Self Reflection

First of all you should ask yourself if your complaint is about a matter of fact or if you’re just projecting an inner conflict on your folks.

So is it really the bad presentation or the ignorant behavior of one of your folks that irritates you? Or are you still annoyed at the dispute you had with your wife this morning?

Believe me, very often your anger results from something else but not the specific situation you think it’s actually about.

So don’t let your folks become the cue ball of your inner conflicts.

2) Emotional Distance

You must distance yourself emotionally from the situation at first. There’s nothing more ineffective than allowing free play to your frustration. This would only turn off your logical thinking.

Always keep in mind that you can’t change the behavior of someone forcibly. YOU can’t even change the behavior of someone at all.

One can only change a behavior by oneself. There’s no other way.

That’s no problem, that’s just another challenge for leaders like you.

It’s your task to convince someone that it is better for him or her to change a certain behavior.

Please never forget this basic rule of holistic leadership.

Your employee must gain the insight that the criticized behavior inflicts damage on you, on himself personally and in the end on the whole department.

Thats’s the way good leaders choose to motivate their employees to change something. They create commitment. A commitment that is imposed by your folks on themselves. And that’s not just theory. That’s the way you should go from now on.

If you start to consider these two points you will increase the probability to be successful dramatically.

The next parts of this article will be about the general conditions and the concrete realization of effective feedback meetings. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

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Posted in Feedback on Nov 20th, 2010, 18:59 by haukeborow