How to Give Negative Feedback – Lee Farghaly

‘You are useless at your job’

Giving Negative Feedback needn't be a daunting experience!

This is how not to give negative feedback to somebody. Pretty obvious surely? That quote comes across as aggressive, confrontational and is not constructive whatsoever. If somebody said this to me I would assume they had a personal issue with me, rather than actually giving negative feedback in a professional and constructive way.

The whole point of giving negative feedback is to allow people to learn from it and work on potential weaknesses to better themselves, consequently helping them to progress in their careers, and even their entire lives to a wider extent.

One of the best and most effective ways to give negative feedback is to first give an honest compliment in relation to positive aspects of their work. By attaching this to negative feedback, it almost takes the edge off the negative. By giving a compliment first, you will have helped to relax the member of staff, and made them feel good about themselves, to a point where they will be much more accepting of the negative feedback. Never start with negative feedback from the off!

Another big no no is emailing negative feedback to someone. Humans as a species are not naturally comfortable with confrontation, and will therefore strive to avoid it as much as possible. But emailing negative feedback to someone is not the way to go. If I were to liken it to something, it would be like throwing a hand grenade over a wall.

Another big no no is emailing negative feedback to someone

By this I mean that you will not have to see the damage caused by the negative feedback, but you can guarantee that it will indeed cause damage! Worst of all you won’t know who it has affected.

Sending negative feedback in this form, rather than delivering it face to face, will also have an effect on you personally. An email can be copied, passed on etc. You would have no idea how many people had seen the email. If you are prone to overthinking, you could create loads of different scenarios in your head as to who had seen this, and what was being said about it without your knowledge. Speaking to the employee in question removes all this.

In my previous life when I worked in retail, I had to deal with an extremely awkward situation whereby customers had made complaints regarding the odour of a member of staff. This was passed onto me to deal with, and to simplify it, I basically had to tell the guy to use some deodorant.

Now the member of staff in question was a really hard worker, so the way I dealt with it was simply by telling him how hard working he was, but that a customer had made a complaint (I wouldn’t tell him it was several, this would have given him a complex) and that he had to do something about it.

Crisis averted

It was as simple as that. Crisis averted. He got some deodorant and any awkwardness between him and myself was swift and minimal. Almost like when ripping a plaster off, it’s going to be painful but if you just get it over and done with it’ll be done and dusted, and you will wonder what all the fuss was about.

So when giving negative feedback, take all of this into consideration, and remember that constructive, face to face criticism wins out all day in comparison to simply venting in an email.

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