Merge's Blog

Giving constructive feedback to employees – one powerful tip

If you’re a supervisor, manager or team leader, then there will be times when you will have to give feedback to employees about things they haven’t done well, or could have done better.   And it’s not an easy task!  In fact, you’ve probably read or heard, or even been taught, that this type of feedback is better received if it’s prefaced first by something nice.  So you might say something like:

You did a really good job of organizing the meeting but the agendas were not distributed early enough.

The feedback you wanted to give was that the agendas were not distributed early enough; and you attempted to soften the message by saying “you did a really good job of organizing the meeting” first.  Unfortunately, if your goal was to get your employee to listen and act on the feedback, you probably failed.  You were unsuccessful because the word “but” is the equivalent of a verbal eraser.  Anything you said prior to the “but” was erased in the mind of the listener.  So you started off well when you said “you did a really good job of organizing the meeting”; but it was never heard because you followed it with the word “but”.  Instead, try:

You did a really good job of organizing the meeting.  Unfortunately the agendas were not distributed early enough”.

Butt out the BUT

Do you see the difference?  Period.  No “but”, no “however” (“however” = “but”).  Butt out the “butt”.

What other classic mistakes have to you encountered in giving (or receiving) negative feedback?

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