As a leader, one of your more challenging tasks is to give negative feedback to an employee. And there’s an art to doing it effectively; after all, your goal is to get a desired behaviour change, not to frustrate or de-motivate your employee. In the past I’ve offered specific advice on how to give negative feedback (see links below), but today I want to step back and ask you to consider whether the feedback is even necessary. It is always worth your while to weigh the tradeoffs before you have a conversation with the transgressing employee.
Ask yourself: is it important? Is the offending behaviour affecting productivity or outcomes? Or is it just an irritation? If in the final analysis, the problem is inconsequential then it may actually be a better idea to keep the feedback to yourself rather than run the risk of putting an employee in a bad mood. Let me give you an example to show you what I mean. Let’s say one of your employees has a messy desk. It drives you crazy because you are a naturally tidy person, but he seems to work well in the chaos. And as far as you can tell, there is no confidential information that is being compromised. If you weigh the tradeoffs before making a decision to bring this issue up with your employee, you might actually decide to let this issue go.
Well, what do you think? I know that this doesn’t sit well with some of you, so c’mon, have your say by clicking on the Comment link below.
Oh yeah, and here are the links to some previous blog posts I’ve written on how to give negative feedback:
- Giving negative feedback: focus on facts instead of opinions
- Giving negative feedback: stay future-focused
- Giving negative feedback: focus on the problem, not the person (video clip)
- It is possible to give negative feedback AND boost employee morale (video clip)