It’s not ideal, but it happens. An employee is not performing well, and it must be mentioned. Maybe they’re showing poor work ethic or low productivity. It could be their skills don’t seem up to par, or perhaps they’ve been calling in sick a lot. Maybe the employee rubs everyone on the team the wrong way. And you’re the person who has to deliver the message.
Here’s some advice on how to do it and how to keep cool.
1. Keep a Level Head and Remain Calm
Unfortunately, providing negative feedback is part of the job. While the context of the conversation may seem negative, don’t personalize it. It isn’t about you as a person. And it isn’t about the employee as a person. Stick to facts about the job performance. Don’t lose your temper, even if the employee becomes emotional or lashes out.
2. How to Handle It
Make sure all the feedback you give is constructive. Your objective is to improve the performance of the employee. Negative feedback has to be mentioned because something has gone wrong, but your goal is to make it go right.
So, to that end:
- State the facts. Don’t use generalities such as, “Your work needs improvement” without specific facts about what and why. The employee must have a clear picture of what has gone wrong. If they were responsible for creating a database with multiple errors, say that. It may be a good idea to have a copy of the database with you.
- Ask for an explanation. Don’t leap to conclusions about why it happened. You need to know the employee’s perspective if the problem is to be solved. Ask for an explanation in an open-ended way, such as, “Why did that occur?”
Their manager may have assumed they couldn’t enter material accurately or didn’t proofread. Asking may reveal they assumed another person on the team was to proofread. If that’s the case, the solution might be making roles on the team clear. Without the employee’s perspective, you may come to the wrong conclusion for the goal of improvement.
- Ask the employee what a solution might be. Soliciting feedback will give you the perspective you need to make a correct decision to solve the problem. Perhaps they’ll suggest further training, or two sets of eyes on all database reports.
You can accept these solutions and explanations at your discretion, of course. The point is, handling negative feedback in this way gives you the employee’s perspective. If that perspective supplies a solution, that’s a win. If not, you will have to take the next step.
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