/ / How To Give Difficult Feedback

How To Give Difficult Feedback

Giving feedback results to employees can be hard, but what’s harder is giving bad feedback results to employees.

People react differently to negative feedback, some celebrity examples of this are Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes (as detailed in our post ‘keys to accepting feedback pt.1’). These celebrity ‘meltdowns’ are prime examples of how feedback can have a negative impact.

You may find it difficult finding a happy medium that suits everyone when delivering difficult feedback, but the following steps aim to help make the experience easier for all parties involved.

Making difficult feedback easier:

1. Be timely

Make sure that the feedback you've received stays relevant by delivering the feedback no longer than 24 hours after feedback session.

2. Be Calm

If you are having intense feelings about a co-workers behavior or actions, make sure that you calm down first before conducting the feedback session. This will ensure that the feedback is truthful and honest and not blinded by anger.

3. Focus on actions

Make sure that the feedback is focused on actions and behavior rather than attitudes. People’s opinions are harder to alter than their actions.

4. Plan ahead

Set an agenda for the feedback session. By identifying what the session is about it ensures that you stay on topic and that the feedback is not misinterpreted.

5. Be direct

Ensure that you clearly identify what the feedback is addressing and that the session is straight forward. This avoids any misunderstandings.

6. Get their side of the story

Asks the receiver of the feedback for their side of the story, this will enable you to understand their actions more.

7. Share your point of view

Make it clear that you disagree with their actions and how you see the situation differently. Explain how you feel, this may give them a greater understanding of the impact of their actions.

8. Don’t argue

Don’t get into an argument trying to prove who’s right and who’s wrong. This will just aggravate the situation.

9. Recap the session

At the end of the session, come to an understanding of the situation. Recap what has been said by each parties so there is no confusion, and establish your expectation for the future.

10. Introduce consequences

If you've had the feedback session and you still see no improvement in the person’s actions, it may be time to introduce consequences. It is important that you notify them of these consequences, such as a cut of their bonus, if they don’t make an effort to change their actions.

11.  Make a list

Once the feedback has been delivered you might find it helpful for you and them to write down the actions that need to be taken to ensure positive change occurs.

12.  Clarify goals and expectations

Use the feedback session to clarify the goals and expectations of the business and the expectations they have of the employee. This enables there to be no confusions of what is required of them.

13.  Build relationships

Perhaps you should promote the idea of the feedback receiver to get a mentor. A mentor will not only help them learn the appropriate behavior in the workplace, but also to build relationships.

14.  Promote self-reflection

Promote this time as a time of self reflection and how they should reflect on their actions and behavior in the workplace and other ways they can strive to improve them.

15.  Remind them that people care

The reason there is any feedback in the first place is because people care. Highlight this to them in the feedback session and that any bad feedback is because people want to help.

By using some of these points, you will insure a positive outcome when delivering difficult feedback.

Full Circle Feedback

About the Author: William Lang

William Lang
Bill Lang has over 25 years professional experience working as an organisation strategy and development consultant and C-suite Executive Coach. Early in his career he worked with KPMG, McKinsey &Co., Bain & Company and AXA as an Executive. His clients operate in over 50 countries and on all continents. He is former member of the Melbourne University Commerce Faculty and holds a MBA(Harvard) and B.Comm/LLB (Hons). He is the author and creator of the Scores on the Board skill development and improvement system.

Free report

Creating a feedback culture