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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Give your employees negative feedback to improve efficiency

It's never easy giving people negative feedback, but it's required, in the interest of bringing out the best in employees. According to research by Columbia University's Aylet Fishbach and Stacy Finkelstein, negative feedback improved efficiency, more so in people who had been at their jobs a long time.

"I had a bright young team member who was almost too cocky about the good work she was doing. After a point, it started affecting her performance," says senior marketing manager with a consumer goods company A Nayar.

"But when I sat her down and pointed out the gaps, while praising her positive attributes, she worked at making the changes. It helped her become that much better." There is a method to the process of giving negative feedback. ET guides you through it.

1 Make It the Exception

No one wants to work in an environment where criticism and negative feedback are rampant. "There's nothing more demotivating for teams," says a regional operations head in a top private bank, who says that whenever he gives reportees negative feedback, he also makes sure to highlight areas in their performance that he is pleased about.

2 Word it Right

While giving negative feedback, it is essential to put it up well, says Sudhir Dhar, senior VP & head — HR, Motilal Oswal Financial ServicesBSE -1.59 %. "It should include strengths and accomplishments as well as areas that need improvement.

The feedback should conclude with corrective action. It is also essential that the superior is fair and clear while giving negative feedback," he says.

3 Support with Data

"It's important to clearly state facts associated with the employee's performance and/or give clear examples," says Sudhir Dhar. "You need to be specific here. Avoid opinions not relevant to job performance and descriptions that are harsh or embarrassing. Avoid comparing with other employees. Instead, use performance guidelines," he says.

4 Make it a Two-Way Process

As a leader, you need to give a listening ear to the employee to understand his part of the story. You should be as willing to accept negative feedback as you are to give it. "It always helps to give the person an opportunity to voice her concerns as well.

That way you can not only uncover the problem, if any, but work together on resolving it," says a manager in a consulting firm.

5 Don't Play the Blame Game

It's very important that no employee should be labelled or given any kind of blame. According to Motilal Oswal's Dhar, this is applicable to all situations — reviews, layoffs, performance evaluations, etc. "Sooner or later the bad news is forgotten, but the labelling remains in the mind of the person," he cautions. 
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