Let’s face it: receiving negative feedback is tough because it exposes our flaws and shortcomings. But with the right approach, criticism offers opportunities to help your company grow.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the importance of negative employee feedback and provide tips on how to properly respond to criticism.
What is Negative Feedback?
Before proceeding with the discussion, let’s start by defining what negative feedback is. Negative feedback is a process that involves pointing out what someone is doing poorly (in this case, the manager) and providing actionable steps on how to address it.
According to Harvard Business Review, providing negative feedback entails suggesting areas of improvement and recommending better ways to approach the problem or situation.
Why is Employee Feedback Important in Business?
Criticism is often perceived as something negative, but did you know that your company can benefit from a healthy dose of criticism? Here are some of the advantages you can reap from receiving negative employee feedback.
Fosters Collaboration and Trust
Collaboration and trust are important if you want to nurture stronger relationships in the workplace. The best way to cultivate them is by listening to employee feedback, whether positive or negative. After all, it pays off: data from the 2021 People Management Report reveals that 24 percent of employees appreciate managers who ask for their feedback.
Improves Performance and Leadership Practices
Negative feedback can help you improve your skills as a manager because it sheds light on the areas that need to change. Moreover, it can help call your attention to solutions that you may not have thought of beforehand.
Solves Existing Problems
Soliciting feedback from employees can help you identify the most pressing problems in your day-to-day and overall operations. This way, you can work on problem areas that hinder your company’s progress. Remember: it’s best to address issues right away before they turn serious.
Improves Employee Engagement
Maintaining employee engagement extends beyond simply conducting team building activities. In fact, it also entails giving your team the chance to speak and provide feedback. Showing your team that you’re willing to listen and are open to what they have to say can encourage them to perform better.
Keep in mind that engaged employees show higher levels of happiness and productivity. This is good news because better employee performance consequently leads to better business outcomes.
The Harvard Business Review shares that managers who receive feedback from their team members report a nine percent increase in creativity. As a result, receiving criticism can help ignite their creative spark and identify new ways to grow.
How to Respond to Employee Feedback the Right Way
Receiving critical feedback is natural in any professional setting. But instead of dwelling on the negatives, why not grab the opportunity to learn and be better? Below we’ve listed six ways to deal with negative feedback more effectively:
Observe Your Initial Reaction
As a manager, you’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of negative feedback. If you think about it, you might observe noticeable patterns in your initial reaction to feedback.
It’s important to take a step back and assess how you respond to criticism so you can deal with it the right way.
When receiving negative feedback, think about your emotional reaction. Do you...:
- …get defensive?
- …criticize the method of delivery?
- …hide your frustrations behind a smile?
- …spiral into self-depreciation?
Then, think about how you receive the feedback. Do you…:
- …reject it right off the bat?
- …scoff at first but consider it later on?
- …acknowledge it but have a difficult time making any significant changes?
Take Time to Reflect
When responding to criticisms, make sure you don’t act on impulse and let your emotions get the best of you. Otherwise, you might end up saying something you’ll regret.
Instead, take a deep breath and let the feedback sink in. Set aside some time alone to think about your game plan and strategize.
View the Feedback from a New Perspective
Our first instinct when responding to criticism is to perceive it as a threat. But the thing is, criticism helps push you forward instead of backwards. If you feel that critical feedback is a personal attack, it might be time for a change in perspective.
Remind yourself that the feedback isn’t personal. Your employee is simply pointing out problems so you can identify areas of improvement. It helps to think of their input as an expression of trust and concern.
Try approaching the criticism with curiosity. Instead of being defensive, ask yourself: “What is this person trying to tell me?”
Prioritize Important Issues
Sometimes, the volume of feedback that managers receive can deter them from immediately taking action. It could take a while to develop an action plan if you’re too busy resolving every issue you encounter, after all. So how can you make the most of your time?
The key lies in prioritizing the most important issues. Sort your feedback by urgency and importance so that you’re focusing on high-priority issues.
Obtain Further Data
Before taking action, it’s best to understand the root of the problem. It’ll be hard to reach the right solution if the main problem is unclear.
If you’re unsure how to obtain more information, here’s how. First, discuss the feedback with your employees. Guide your conversation with the following questions:
- How long have you been experiencing this problem?
- Can you cite specific instances when it happened?
- How does it affect the company?
- What can you suggest to address it?
You can also seek insights from a “challenge network,” or a group of people that you trust to deliver honest, impartial feedback. This network can provide another perspective so you can see the problem from another point of view.
The feedback process doesn’t stop after obtaining more data or context — you’ll need to have a clear action plan. Findings from an All Voices survey reflect this: 40 percent of employees want to see their feedback translate into change.
After obtaining all the necessary data, schedule a meeting with your team members and brainstorm potential solutions. Keep an open mind as you listen to their suggestions and assess whether they’re feasible or not.
Turn Negative Feedback Into an Opportunity for Growth
Negative feedback may seem like a hurdle at first glance. But with the right mindset and approach, you can turn criticisms into a new learning opportunity and take your business to greater heights.
Want to make the feedbacking process easy and rewarding for your employees? Use Performance+ to ensure a consistent feedback loop and retrieve data-driven insights from your team. You can also explore the Sprout blog to learn more about the latest work trends and insights.