Need to give negative feedback during your employee's performance review? Don't do THIS!

Karin Iten, Fsp Business, 09 Apr. 2015

Tags: performance review, performance review tips for managers, employee appraisals, employee performance feedback, how to give an employee negative feedback, motivating employees, performance review comments

One of the most challenging parts of a performance review is giving your employees feedback.

And when it comes to telling an employee something negative, this task becomes even harder.

After all, giving negative feedback incorrectly is more likely to produce disgruntled staff, rather than a team set on improving, reveals a recent study led by Kansas State University assistant professor of Management Satoris Culbertson.

So what do you need to remember when giving your employee negative feedback?

Our HR experts have some great pointers...

Use these tips to give negative feedback during an employee appraisal

Negative feedback is hard to take, regardless of where it comes from. And when it's tied to money – like it is in the case of your employee's performance review – it can cause some very strong emotions. 
That's why you need to be careful about not just what you say, but how you say it. 
One of the best ways to do this, says Culbertson is to frame negative things in a more positive way.
As he tells readers: Use words like 'developmental opportunities' instead of 'weaknesses' for example. He says he likes this because 'it highlights that development (change for the better) is possible'. And, in so doing, means that what you discuss next doesn't come out as a huge blow to their self-esteem.
Other things to do, according to the HR experts behind the Human Resources for Managers service, include: 
#1. Be information-specific, issue-focused and make sure you base all your feedback on observations
Praise, like negative feedback, comes across as personal. Information is fact and can't be disputed. Remember this so that any feedback you do give isn't misconstrued or taken the wrong way.
#2: Don't beat around the bush
Say what the issue is in a straightforward manner. Leave no room for interpretation. 
#3: Avoiding phrases that have the words 'need to' in them
For example, don't tell James he 'needs to be more careful when working near chemicals'. This implies that your employee did something wrong but it doesn't say what the actual problem is. Be clear about the problem.
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#4: Don't mix your messages
While you always need to say what you have to say with respect, words like 'but', 'however' and 'although' makes your employee think that he shouldn't believe a thing you said before it. 
#5: Express concern
As Marty Brounstein, author of Coaching and Mentoring For Dummies, explains: 'A tone of concern communicates a sense of importance and care and provides the appropriate level of sincerity to the message. Tones such as anger, frustration, disappointment, and the ever-popular sarcasm tend to colour the language of the message and turn attempts at negative feedback into criticism. The content of the message gets lost in the noise and harshness.'
Bottom line: The purpose of giving negative feedback is to create awareness so your employee can correct or improve his performance. If you don't give it in a helpful manner or in the correct language and emotion, you're essentially defeating the purpose. For more dos and don'ts on this topic, check out this article. 

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