As a manager, there are times when you need to communicate potentially critical feedback or break some bad news. Of course, depending on the situation and your unique management style, you may be inclined to communicate in a certain manner. But in order to maintain a positive relationship with your employees and contribute to a good corporate culture, the last thing you want to be is mean. Follow these tips to draw the line between being upfront and open about a situation without negatively impacting employee moral.
Listening is Critical
While it might seem that the most important part of the conversation is sharing what is on your mind, listening to your employee’s perspective is also key. This shows them that you both respect and value their input and helps set the stage for a constructive conversation. For employees to feel that you are truly engaged in the discussion, listen at least as much as you talk. Your employees will appreciate the chance to have their voice heard and will be more receptive to the information that you need to pass on as well.
Avoid Getting Personal and Stay Constructive
It is important to also keep any feedback you provide as impersonal as possible. Work is work, and most employees understand that they are not perfect and can benefit from some constructive criticism from time to time. So long as the feedback is not personal, your team members will most likely be receptive the advice and take it in stride.
Be Mindful of Your Tone and the Setting
Just about the worst thing you can do is be critical in front of other people. Never put an employee down in public, and be mindful of the tone you use to share your criticism. Condescension or rudeness will not produce the type of results you want to achieve from the conversation, no matter how frustrating the situation may be. Be honest but respectful and share openly what the issue is and how you would like to see it addressed.
Make a Plan to Move Forward
Whether an employee is receptive to your feedback or not, it is crucial to make a plan and share it with the team member so that you are able to track the status of the situation going forward. If what you are communicating requires certain actions to be taken to result in performance improvements, it can be helpful to set step by step goals to help an employee identify the issue and move beyond the obstacle. If what you are communicating is a warning that certain behavior is not tolerable, then clearly and concisely lay out the consequences, should the behavior take place again. Regardless of what you need to communicate, having a clear outcome of the conversation in mind (and on paper) and sharing that plan with the employee is helpful in seeing the type of response you would like from the discussion.
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