Giving employee feedback is the least favorite responsibility of most leaders.
And it’s no wonder. Providing honest, constructive feedback is a learned skill that many leaders haven’t been taught.
As hard as it is to do, avoiding it isn’t an option.
If you don’t address issues, you’ll end up losing your dream team—or maybe feel like working with them is a nightmare.
I’m going to share three secrets that will completely flip the script on giving employee feedback and save you hours of repetitive conversations with your employees.
Ready to have those “hard” conversations without losing your cool or feeling frustrated? Let’s dive in!
Secret #1: Give Employee Feedback with Confidence
That might sound like it goes without saying, but you’d be surprised at how many leaders struggle to find a confident way of effectively giving employee feedback.
Either you’re too direct and the employee stresses out, or you tiptoe around the topic and never clearly say what you need them to hear.
In some cases, you might be worried about them liking you, so you say nothing, letting your employee make the same mistake over and over. I hear this from my clients all the time!
One of my clients was so worried about giving his employee feedback that he made a ton of extra work for himself. To avoid hurting the employee’s feelings, the manger just kept jumping back into the day-to-day work and fixing the problem himself. He ended up burnt out.
If you’re not confident enough to give good, clear feedback, your employee won’t improve. In the short-run, you’re doing tons of extra work and inviting burn-out.
Down the road, you may face the painful decision of letting them go, or they may leave on their own out of frustration.
Get over the need to be liked. Be yourself. Connect to your role as a leader. If your employee is doing something that isn’t working, are you really being “nice” by holding back your feedback?
Re-frame the thought that giving feedback is finding fault or “being mean.” Instead, think about how you’ll be giving them the knowledge they need to show up more successfully.
Secret #2: Stop Thinking of Your Employees as the Problem
“They’re not good enough.”
Ever found yourself saying that about your team?
I used to rack my brain wondering why my direct reports didn’t get what I was telling them to do.
Here’s where understanding your own mind is key. How you think about your employees is directly tied to the results you’re experiencing.
If you think they’re not going to “get it,” you will feel unmotivated to help them. As a result, you won’t provide feedback—after all, it’s futile, right?
Or, if you do provide feedback, your heart won’t be in it, so you’ll engage them in a lackluster way.
The only way to give clear, compassionate feedback is to change your belief about your employees. You need to believe that they can make changes and do better.
My secret sauce to giving employee feedback is to first elicit the truth from them.
In many situations employees are thinking, “I don’t know how to do that. I don’t think it’s my job. I don’t agree with the change.”
This type of thinking is a HUGE roadblock when you’re giving them feedback. You’re trying to get them to do something different, and they’re resisting with all their might. It’s like when you’re pulling one way on your dog’s leash, and it’s pulling just as hard in the other direction: no one goes anywhere!
Most employees are afraid to speak up because you’re the boss. That means you need to get the ball rolling.
Once you establish honest communication, you can get to the bottom of why your employee is doing what they’re doing. This clear understanding will lead you to an actual solution instead of another round of the blame game.
Establishing open dialogue with your team can be tricky. If that’s a place where you could use backup, I’m here to help. That’s one of the core skills I teach my coaching clients so they can build rapport and trust with their employees. Reach out for a free Strategy Session.
Secret #3: Employees Need Feedback in Different Ways
You may have heard that there are many different types of intelligence. It’s why some people can compose operas and others can’t even plunk out “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on the piano.
There are also multiple learning styles. Not all people learn the same way. Think back to the last meeting you were in. Maybe one person had their eyes glued to the whiteboard while someone else was busy scribbling notes on paper. They were both paying attention but in different ways.
Your employees might have a learning style different from yours. Do they need examples? Do they learn best from getting the big picture? The details? Do they need to hear it, see it, or read it?
Giving employee feedback that sticks means understanding your team’s learning style. As a leader you must know how to teach your employees in a way that makes sense to them.
Once you start teaching them the way they learn, BOOM. They start to “get it,” and you get relief.
Get curious about your employees and observe their learning style. Ask open-ended questions starting with “How” or “Why” so you can watch how they process a problem.
Use what you observe about them to mirror their process. Explain how they need to improve or change their work. This will allow you to give them feedback they’ll actually be able to hear, understand, and act on.
It takes practice. But remember, you’re learning how your employees work so that you can retain them for the long-term. Think of it as investing in the future of your dream team.
I’ve learned from personal experience as a leader and from the leaders I coach that talking to employees makes all the difference. Giving employee feedback becomes so much easier, less stressful, and more effective.
Switch Your Mindset About Giving Feedback
Let’s review the reasons why you hate giving feedback:
- It’s uncomfortable. You don’t want to hurt your employee’s feelings.
- The thought “they’re not good enough” because they keep making the same mistakes holds you back from really being motivated to give them feedback.
- You don’t know how, so you’re not confident, and your method of presenting information doesn’t match your employee’s style of learning.
Despite these frustrations, you know that giving effective feedback directly affects your employee retention. It’s too important to leave it to chance or to let it go by the wayside.
Now that you have action steps to address each of the obstacles above, giving employee feedback can go from a chore to an opportunity to strengthen your team and create long-term success.
Wondering what the first step is in mastering these secrets? It’s effective communication with your team.
When you open the lines of communication, you’ll…
- Build trust and rapport with your employees.
- Engage with them more naturally because you know how they learn.
- Feel more confident speaking to them and offer feedback sooner so small issues don’t grow into major problems.
If you’re ready to start giving feedback with confidence and master next-level communication with your team, I’m here to help.
I offer a unique type of coaching that provides accelerated results by hacking your own thoughts and behaviors. Let me help make giving feedback a powerful tool in your leadership tool kit. Sign up for a free Strategy Session to get started.