How to give a Negative Feedback to Your Team Member?


If you are working as a Team Manager, you would understand that managing people and getting the work done is not always about clapping and patting on the back. While on one hand, you give them a positive feedback so as to boost their morale, on the other hand, you need to give them a negative/constructive feedback as well on their improvement areas. One of the hard things as a People Manager is to give a negative feedback to your team member because you have to use criticism keeping in mind you are not demotivating or demoralizing them.

Before getting into details, you must understand here that the idea of giving a constructive feedback is not to dictate people what is to be done and what is not to be done. The idea is to make them understand their improvement areas which could have a direct or indirect impact on their performance.

Below are few pointers which you should keep in mind while giving a negative feedback.

  1. Feedback is important.

Before giving your feedback to your team, you should make your team understand the importance of the feedback. How it is correlated to their growth and productivity. And, how both the positive and constructive feedback is important.

2. Never give negative feedback in front of the team members but ensure transparency.

Sometimes, giving a negative feedback to your team member in front of other team members might let them feel embarrassed and humiliated. In such scenario, they would not be taking your feedback positively. Ensure you are choosing a private place for this discussion.

Here, one thing to consider is, though you are giving your negative feedback to the person privately, a feedback related to work or non-delivery, where other team members are also involved should be given openly in front of other team members. This will help you in fixing up the accountability of the person also, you will be able to retain transparency and trust in your team by staying open.

 3. Avoid Sandwich approach

It’s recommended that you should start the conversation with a positive note, a genuine honest complement and then come to the negative feedback. But, while doing so, ensure you are not letting the message get diluted and your team member understands what you are conveying to him. Separate your negative commentary with the praises and keep your message clear.

4. Discuss behaviour and not the person.

While having the constructive conversation, you should keep in mind you are discussing behaviours which are impacting the productivity, approach and growth and not the person.  If the individual will feel that he is being attacked on personal grounds, it’s quite possible he will turn defensive and your conversation will lose its effectiveness.

 5. Avoid Stockpiling

Don’t wait for one fine day to come when you would be sharing a pile of negative feedbacks altogether.  Negative feedbacks are best given then and there at the situation so that the individual has a chance to correlate with the incidence. Or, give it in small doses so that the team member can understand and act on it.

6. Keep a regular review.

If you think, you have given your constructive feedback and now you are done, you might get wrong here. You must ensure you are keeping a regular check on the implementation and improvement. A weekly review of the steps taken towards improvement would really be helpful.

7. Never  combine negative feedback with appraisal discussion

Like typical year-end evaluation, don’t club your negative feedback with any discussion with salary or promotion. Many a time, even a mellow employee would also not be able to withhold the emotions that come out from this sort of mix conversation. Keep is separate.

8. Don’t jump to the conclusion. Let the other party talk.

You might disagree to the some of the behaviours of a person like showing up late or going early, but instead of charging them at once, let them explain the reason for the same. There might be an emergency or any other valid reason. Don’t just jump to the conclusion. Another party should get a fair chance to put his side, counter, disagree, converse and then agree to you. It should go mutual and not one way, so you should be open to listening to the other party as well.

9. Reaffirm your faith.

Your constructive feedback to your team member should not let him feel that you don’t find him relevant enough for the job anymore. You must ensure you show your faith on them and make them understand that you have faith in their abilities but they are expected to bring certain change in their behaviour or approach in order to get a difference in results and productivity.

 10. Be Specific.

You should be specific on both the criticism and expectation. Research shoes, most of the time, people actually don’t get what was the specific take away of that particular constructive conversation. Make sure you are giving specific feedback to the person. Also, that you are quite specific on what changes or improvement are expected from them.

After completing your feedback session with your team member, move on. Don’t hover over them or carry any sort of negative feeling. It’s fine to make mistakes and to improve on it. Understand it and move on.  Last but not the least,

  • Don’t email your negative feedback without having a one on one conversation with the person.
  • Have a mutually accepted plan of action.
  • Be willing to accept the feedbacks too.