Delivering negative feedback to your employees can be awkward, uncomfortable, and a little intimidating. As a manager, you may find yourself avoiding these conversations in an effort to spare employees’ feelings, or to preserve good working relationships.
We understand your dilemma. However, we’re here to tell you that you aren’t doing your employee any favors by withholding constructive criticism about where he or she needs to improve. Think about it: their performance, behavior, or attitude isn’t up to par, and by avoiding the uncomfortable conversation, you’re depriving them of the opportunity to make necessary changes. It isn’t fair to them or to you. In the worst case scenario, you could even be setting them up for termination due to nonperformance.
We advocate providing constructive feedback regularly, rather than waiting for a formal review. That being said, you DO need to pay attention to the language you use when having these types of conversations.
Avoid any language that might be discriminatory according to state or federal labor law. A good rule of thumb is to be factual and limit your comments to the employee’s PERFORMANCE, rather than PERSONALITY, as these types of remarks can be interpreted as a personal attack. An example of words to avoid would be descriptions such as “sloppy” or “messy,” which sound like value judgments rather than appraisals of performance.