— July 10, 2017
I’ve been a motivational speaker for a number of years now, and I have to say: So far, I’ve not met many people who actually like receiving negative feedback. It can be truthful, and it can be necessary, but that doesn’t mean it’s welcome. Sometimes, negative feedback can feel too personal, too nitpicky, or just too mean—and when you feel that way about a piece of feedback, you’re not as likely to implement it.
So how do you give feedback that people will actually listen to? How do you get a response? How do you make your negative feedback constructive? I have a few ideas to share with you.
How to Make Negative Feedback Meaningful and Constructive
Set the right expectations. Make sure that, before you provide negative feedback to an individual, you hold a meeting with your team to let them know why feedback is important. Allow them to see why you invest in evaluations and performance reviews in the first place, and make it clear that even a negative observation comes from a constructive place.
Make feedback a regular rhythm. An annual performance review really isn’t often enough for your employees to learn how to receive feedback. A 10-minute weekly check-in, with each employee, is much better.
Separate negative feedback from salary/raise questions. Make these two separate topics, to help diffuse some of the emotions that come into play when money is on the line.
Ask for self-evaluations. Before you get going with feedback, ask your employee to share their own thoughts on how they are doing. Ask them to prepare their evaluation in advance.
Ask for permission. “May I share some feedback with you?” This simple phrase instills respect and trust in your conversation—and can make what follows go much more smoothly.
Bring specific solutions. Feedback that is vague often feels unhelpful, or simply spiteful. Make sure you are specific in what you propose to your employees, and show them ways they can make improvements.
Be open-minded. Listen to your employee’s side of the story—and be willing to change your mind, if necessary. It’s possible that your feedback can be off-base, and it’s critical to admit that.
As a motivational speaker, I know a little bit about encouraging people to take action—and I hope these feedback tips will make you a more inspiring and motivational leader.