How to Give Negative Feedback

On this short episode, we will tackle how to give negative feedback to someone on your team. During performance reviews, you have to give proper feedback that is both timely and corrective.

I shuffled my papers nervously as I waited for him to enter the room. I had to give a performance review today and I was not looking forward to it. I had googled how to give a bad review trying to figuring out the exact way to word that he needed to do better. I stood as James entered the room, we shook hands and I asked him to have a seat. We made small talk for a bit then it was time to get down to business. ‘So I wanted to talk review your performance this year and talk about some areas where I think we can improve’. He looked at me and said “I feel like I deserve to be promoted”

Welcome to the corporate middle I am your host Donald Meador and today on 5 minute Mangement we are going to tackle performance review and more specifically how to give negative feedback to someone on your team. This time of year is super exhausting as a manager. Everyone is firing up new projects and having meetings everywhere and then you have all the team management activities you have to do. Like writing reviews. First off let’s make sure I emphasize it is incredibly important you give your team real honest feedback. Too many weak managers like to let things slide. They like to avoid confrontation and so they won’t have a frank conversation about their team’s performance. This is how you have a low performing team. Feedback is the most fundamental and most important tool you have at your disposal as a manager you have to make sure and use it effectively to lead a high performing team.

Everyone thinks they are doing a good job until you as a manager indicate otherwise. Just like my example in the opening story. That was a failure on my part as I had not taken the time to engage more frequently and had waited until the review to provide my criticism.

Feedback needs only two things to be successful, It has to be timely and corrective. It has to be close enough to the source of the issue and you have to give specific feedback on how exactly change needs to be made. We already have the purest model of this and that is through high-level sports. If you watch a coach correct a player it is instant. They make a mistake and the feedback is instant. They are showed exactly what went wrong and what they need to do correctly. What’s more, the next day players are given a grade for every game after the coaches review the film. Just like in a classroom a player will get a percentage score on the entire game of how they did, they lose points for missing a block or a tackle and so on. Then the players watch the film and they review exactly what they did wrong and how to fix it. This is the exact model we have to follow when we are leading our teams. Unfortunately, we do not have the ability to review the film when someone messes up on a powerpoint but the concept is the exact same. When someone is missing the mark you need to pull together a one on one meeting immediately review exactly what is wrong and what they need to do to fix it. I was sitting on a conference call with no less than 30 people when one of the members of my team started to veer off in the wrong direction. The conversation began to get heated over missed deadlines and everyone wanted to start pointing fingers I had to jump in a diffuse the situation. Afterward, I called him directly to better understand his perspective but I let him know I did not think he handled the situation correctly and specified how I believed it should be handled in the future.  It was timely and corrective.

A technique for delivering feedback you have probably heard about is the sandwich technique. It is stupid, stop using it. Someone on your team should never be confused about where you stand. Make sure the issue you need to correct is discussed and closed before you move on to anything else. People use this technique to dull the impact of the feedback and they don’t want to be seen as the bad guy.

Everyone is the hero in their own story they always think they are doing a good job. It is their hero’s journey. What every hero needs A villain! There is a chance that you are the villain in their story. You need to be prepared for that. They may not like you and they may try and explain why you are wrong. This is okay. It is okay to listen to this! Your job is to get the best out of each individual in your team and sometimes they may feel like you are the villain for doing this.

The example I had in the opener about someone getting ready to be promoted even though I was not going to give them a great review was a complete failure on my part. I had not been giving them timely advice, how can they know they are not performing if I don’t tell them?

Thanks for listening today make sure you are giving feedback to your team that is both timely and corrective. I love answering your pressing middle management questions on how to get through your day. We are going to figure out what works and doesn’t work. If you have a question you want me to answer or just a crazy story you want me to share head over to the or just send me an email  Look forward to hearing from you and remember the reward for good work is just more work! See ya next time.