“All difficult conversations are, well, difficult,” says Anne Miner, president and CEO of The Dunvegan Group. “[But] feedback is information — information that the recipient may choose to act upon to improve their own performance or, up their game. When you cast the conversation in this light, it may help the recipient to receive the information in a positive light.”
Try to be as objective as possible, too, and frame your feedback up as something you’ve noticed that needs to be discussed, says Dr. Dewett, versus making it about who they are as a person. Saleh agrees, even recommending that managers avoid using terminology like, “don’t take this personally, but . . .” Instead, make it about the work itself, and give your employee a chance to weigh in on next steps.
Dory Wilson, founder of Your Office Mom, also believes in the power of reframing negative feedback.
“[For example] Instead of saying, ‘I am still getting complaints that your monthly reports are not well-organized,’ make the feedback clear and actionable. Saying, ‘Overall, the data in your monthly report looks excellent. I would like to talk about ways to organize the data to make it easier for our executive team to review and take action. I want to get your ideas, but I think adding a pivot table, and a separate summary page would be helpful. What ideas do you have?’”