- For managers, giving feedback – especially constructive or negative feedback – is one of the most difficult parts of the job. The problem is that many managers haven’t actually been taught how to have these conversations, writes Anna-Lucia Mackay for HRM America.
- Using 20 years of research, Mackay outlines two components that a manager must know before having those tough conversations: Having absolute clarity about the result you want to achieve, and knowing how you are going to conduct the conversation.
- She provides five tips for managers to follow when conducting difficult conversations about feedback, including watching the timing, preparing enough, asking questions, looking, listening and learning, and finally, sharing what you know and not what you think.
“It is often how managers conduct the conversation which leads to relationship breakdowns,” Mackay writes. Managers should therefore be careful with their timing, ensuring they have all the facts before acting but not waiting until the last minute. That way, managers can avoid a potential steep drop in performance.
Mackay calls for the 80-20 rule when preparing for a conversation with a poorly performing employee – 80% time spent on preparation and 20% on the conversation itself. Lack of preparation can lead to conversations that become emotionally fueled and potentially dangerous.
Another common mistake, according to Mackay, is for a manager to enter the conversation assuming they already know why something happened or already have a solution to the supposed problem. Instead, a manager must ask questions “to test assumptions and validate perceptions” before attempting any sort of analysis during the discussion.
It is important to note that, often times, a manager can be to blame for an employee’s poor performance, as well. So keep that in mind when conducting performance reviews and evaluations.