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negative feedback

The Right Way to Deliver Negative Feedback to Employees

Effective leadership involves transparent communication, and while praising employees for their successes is essential, addressing underperformance is equally crucial for organizational growth. Leaders play a pivotal role in fostering a culture of improvement, and acknowledging areas that require development is a cornerstone of this process. Despite its significance, delivering negative feedback remains a challenging aspect of leadership, often met with discomfort and avoidance. However, enlightened leaders recognize that constructive criticism, when communicated tactfully, serves as a catalyst for individual and collective advancement. By navigating the complexities of providing feedback, leaders demonstrate commitment to employee growth, contributing not only to enhanced performance but also to a culture of continuous learning and development within the organization. Hence, this podcast episode on the Chicago Booth Review website highlights a few effective tips for leaders to graciously deliver negative feedback to their employees.

The episode highlights the challenge of delivering honest feedback when the recipient is seemingly unaware of their underperformance. Various feedback strategies are explored, with the episode revealing that the commonly used “sandwich approach”—starting with positive feedback, followed by negative feedback, and ending on a positive note—does not significantly impact the effectiveness of the feedback. The most positively rated response involves expressing appreciation for the employee’s valuable insights, acknowledging the issue, and offering mentorship to enhance language skills. The willingness to mentor, however, exhibits a 20% gender difference, with more openness to mentor male employees compared to their female counterparts.

The episode delves into feedback dynamics in the corporate world, where negative feedback is often minimal and less substantial than positive feedback. It discusses the challenges associated with providing more direct and constructive criticism due to the perceived negativity of such feedback. Despite the perceived unpleasantness, the episode argues that engaging in more constructive feedback is crucial for both personal and professional growth. The episode also includes insights from an AI model, ChatGPT, which suggests starting with positive expressions, using specific language, and offering guidance. It highlights potential risks associated with delivering negative feedback, such as impacts on confidence, responsiveness to feedback, communication breakdown, and team dynamics. In case the employee becomes defensive, the AI recommends staying calm, being empathetic, and encouraging open dialogue. Overall, the episode underscores the importance of providing constructive feedback and mentorship to help employees improve and grow.

Giving feedback to employees is an imperative part of a leader’s job in order to make their peers grow. The preceding text highlights a few effective tips for leaders to graciously deliver negative feedback to their employees.


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