Taking the emotion out of feedback

 Oct 29, 2014

One of the greatest challenges managers face is how to give constructive feedback that results in their employee feeling positive and motivated to change their behaviour and, more importantly, sustain it. Rather than being perceived as criticism, I see feedback merely as a joint problem solving exercise. It’s an opportunity for both parties to analyse an issue and agree on an appropriate solution. I’ve found this approach very beneficial in reducing (and sometimes eliminating) the risk of emotions derailing the conversation. Here are some simple tips to help achieve this outcome:
  • Do your homework and plan what you will say to avoid getting caught up in your own emotions.
  • Commence with an opening statement that sets a positive tone for what follows.
  • Ideally, base your feedback on first hand observations.
  • Be behaviourally specific when describing behaviour e.g. what you saw the employee do or say.
  • Avoid the use of vague or subjective words and phrases e.g. “I’d like to discuss your negative attitude during our meeting.”
  • Ask questions and actively listen to encourage an open dialogue and put the employee at ease.
  • Be open to receiving both feedback and views that may differ from your own.
When employees feel they have been heard and treated with respect during these types of discussions, it can result in a much stronger relationship. So try these tips out for yourself the next time you give feedback to your employees and see if they work for you – they are definitely winning tips for me!

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About the Author:

Trish Dobe  

Trish has over 20 years of experience in organisational development, change management, and corporate learning & development both within Australia and overseas. As one of New Horizons’ Professional Development trainers, Trish’s main focus is the delivery of solutions which enable organisations to measurably improve their performance. Trish specialises in the delivery of training programs in the areas of performance management, leadership, process improvement, sales and customer service. From a practical standpoint, she has held a number of roles varying from front-line through to senior management within a variety of commercial environments. With this, Trish brings her practical experience into the classroom and gives her the ability to engage professionals from junior to senior levels.

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