Part 3: Giving your manager negative feedback

Feedback is without a doubt one of the most powerful tools available for businesses to strengthen communication and workplace performance. Typically, feedback is comprised of face-to-face, personal sessions where a supervisor assesses an employee’s performance, acknowledging what was done well as well as seeing where there is room for improvement. There are also newer, at times more effective alternatives to giving in person feedback, such is the case with the FeedYak® app which allows users to give brief and effective video feedback. While this is the norm of giving feedback, sometimes we, as an employee, are put in a position where we must assess our superior’s performance. In yesterday’s article about giving your manager positive feedback, we discussed how you should prepare to give a positive assessment of your manager’s performance. However, not all performances at the workplace are positive. Perhaps a breakdown in communication from your manager leads to a project or presentation falling apart, thus affecting the efficiency of the entire team. Times like these warrant you giving your superior some sort of feedback, letting them know the employee’s perspective of the situation as well as what can be improved upon. Negative feedback, many times referred as constructive feedback, has the goal of identifying outlining actions that diminish or adversely affect the performance of the team. While the nature of this type of feedback is not criticizing a person’s character, you may run a thin line between offending and empowering. This depends on the delivery of the feedback

Just like when giving positive feedback, negative or constructive feedback requires as much if not more preparation from your part. In this last piece of our 3-Part article on how to give feedback to your manager, we present a few things to have in mind when deciding to give your manager constructive feedback:

Gather your emotions:

Many times after a work related breakdown we may hold on to the frustration that this has caused us. Before approaching your manager, make sure to take some space for yourself in order to avoid coming out in an explosive manner during the feedback session. Remember, you want to maintain professionalism throughout, which might mean waiting before choosing to give the constructive feedback.

Discuss the situation with your colleagues:

A workplace mishap, especially when it is caused by managerial negligence can affect the dynamic in the office. After such an event has occurred, it is important to discuss what has happened with your colleagues and coworkers so as to have a better perspective of the general opinion of the team. Perhaps you are the only one who acknowledged that something went awry. Perhaps the problem is worse than you had previously imagined. Communicating with the other members of the team will help you understand the effect the mismanagement has had in the office and, as such will help you when it comes time to approach your manager.

Talk about specifics:

When giving anyone, including your superior, constructive or negative feedback, it is important to be specific and exact with regard to the behavior that you want to address. Just like we discussed in our last about giving your manager positive feed Simply stating that you messed up fails to fully express what it is you’re trying to say to your manager and, furthermore, may be seen as a sign of disrespect. Make a list beforehand of specific actions that lead to the breakdown, and then prepare to communicate this in a clear, concise way to your manager. Also, make sure to use encouraging language that clearly explains your view on what has transpired.

Make the approach:

This may be the most daunting, albeit the most important part when thinking of giving your manager constructive feedback. Establish a time and place to do the feedback session, making sure that your manager is willing and available to be fully engaged with you. It is always preferable to give negative feedback in person but never in front of other members of the work team. A mistake many employees make when approaching their supervisor is not letting them know beforehand, which can lead to a quick dismissal from your supervisor or a half-hearted listen to you concern. You want him or her to be with an open disposition to hear your opinion about what they did that affected the team’s performance. Remember, you are giving feedback in order to improve your workplace and, if given correctly, your manager