If you run a business, there will inevitably come a time when you have to provide an employee with negative feedback. Whether their performance isn't up to par or there have been complaints from customers or other employees, problems need to be addressed, even if doing so is uncomfortable. Keep the following tips in mind to help the feedback process go smoothly.

1. Don't React in the Moment

It can be frustrating when an employee doesn't handle a task or situation correctly, and it can be tempting to let them know right away that you're displeased or simply that they did something wrong, but it's best not to act in the moment while emotions may be running high. The knee-jerk reaction isn't necessarily the right one, so wait until you've had a chance to calm down and thoroughly assess the situation before providing feedback. This may prevent you from saying something you'll regret or not getting the full story before you react.

2. But, Don't Wait Too Long

You also don't want to wait too long before you say something because when there is too much distance from the occurrence, you may not recall the situation exactly as it was or the employee may not remember the instance you're talking about. If the problem is something that may continue, it's better to address it before additional damage is done.

3. Be Constructive

Negative feedback doesn't have to come in the form of a reprimand. You can provide constructive criticism, which increases the possibility that you can maintain a working relationship of mutual respect. Offer advice on how they may be able to improve in the problematic area. Hopefully, they will recognize their mistake and be eager to correct it, and their work will be better as a result.

4. Be Honest

Be honest in your feedback. If the employee doesn't know the truth about why their performance has been an issue, it's unlikely they’ll make a major effort to correct it. Clearly explain the issue, why it's a problem, and what consequences may ensue if it continues. Being constructive will soften the blow and help you both get to the root of the problem.

5. Be Direct

If you're not comfortable giving negative feedback, you might be the type to dance around the problem, but it's better to be direct.

"Some managers or supervisors will begin a conversation about negative feedback with superficial statements or unnecessary compliments," explains Indeed.1 "This is typically done because the manager believes this will make it easier for the employee to receive the negative feedback. However, appearing superficial will ultimately work against the manager or supervisor rather than for them. Focus on the truth when giving constructive feedback and be as genuine, helpful, and vulnerable as possible. This will encourage the employee to respond similarly."

6. Offer Feedback in Private

If you need to give negative feedback, meet in a private setting so that the employee doesn't have to face any embarrassment. Nobody wants to be told they've done something wrong in front of their co-workers. That could even lead to others having less respect for their teammate, which can impact work overall. It's also ideal to provide this feedback face to face, not in an email or text where tone and meaning may be lost in translation.

7. Listen to What They Have to Say

It's possible that there is a deeper issue that led to the problem. Listen carefully to what the employee has to say. It's possible that it isn't really their fault. Try to get the full story before jumping to any conclusions. This can prevent damaging your relationship with the employee, and hopefully the two of you can rectify the situation.

8. Follow Up

After you've had the initial conversation about whatever was wrong, follow up with the employee later to see how things are going. Is the issue resolved or ongoing? What needs to happen next? If things aren't better, you'll need to address it with them again. If they are, then you can offer your appreciation. 

Most times, your feedback is likely to result in improvements. Other times, you may ultimately have to fire the employee. If you stick to these tips, however, you'll have given them a fair chance to improve and given yourself every opportunity to make the best of the situation.

1. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-give-negative-feedback


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank. Nevada State Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC