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EURES (EURopean Employment Services)
News article25 November 2022European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

How to sensitively deliver negative feedback to employees

Sharing negative feedback can be challenging, but it is an important part of managing employees, and can actually strengthen your relationship if delivered in the right way. Read on to find out how you can achieve this.

How to sensitively deliver negative feedback to employees

Be respectful

Always deliver negative feedback in private, and be sure to remain calm and empathetic. Actively listen to your employee’s point of view, and genuinely reflect on what they are saying, taking time to carefully consider your responses before you speak. Not only will this make them more receptive to your comments, but it will also foster your employees’ professional growth, as they will feel able to take on new challenges in the future without fear of embarrassment or confrontation.

Be direct and honest, but not harsh

While it may feel easier to soften the blow by giving good feedback to counteract the negative, it is not productive in the long-term. Instead, your employees will gain a false impression of their performance, leading to confusion and potential upset when your positive comments are not reflected in their appraisals or job progression. To avoid this, deliver targeted feedback, which is specific to certain behaviours or milestones. Don’t make sweeping statements or overarching judgments about an employee’s ability or intentions, as this could make them feel targeted personally.

Choose your timing

Deliver negative feedback promptly, at an appropriate time. This will mean your employees can take immediate action to adjust their approach and avoid further issues. Additionally, waiting too long could make your comments less impactful, as your employees may feel unfairly and unexpectedly ambushed, and be distracted from the tasks they are currently working on.

Identify solutions and set realistic goals

To ensure your feedback is constructive and not just critical, help your employee to identify solutions to issues you raise and set realistic and specific goals to improve in the future. Make it clear why these changes are important, and how they will contribute to improving their overall job performance. Additionally, be sure to set a date to follow up on progress. Not only will this help to ensure continuous improvement in your employees’ performance, but it will also help to make them feel like you are invested in their career progression.

Want more advice on keeping your employees happy? Check out our article on ‘How to be a great employer’.


Related links:

How to be a great employer


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