How to Give Tough Feedback Gracefully

In the span of every career, there will likely come a time when you must give difficult feedback to an employee or team member. Consider these tips when giving negative feedback.

• Set a positive intention. Although corrective action is sometimes necessary, don’t go into the conversation with the intention to reprimand. Go in with the intention to help the employee grow, rather than to show them they were wrong. Before you start the conversation, reflect on what you want your employee or team member to take away from this situation.

• Establish trust and rapport. Instead of starting the conversation off with, “You need to change,” create a safe space for an honest discussion by staying calm and even-keeled. Being combative will cause them to become defensive and not take responsibility, which won’t be productive for either party.

• Ask questions instead of accusing. Invite the employee to the problem-solving process by asking questions. Was excessive workload the reason a specific error was made? What can be done to prevent the same thing from happening again?

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