Here’s a reader’s story about giving and receiving feedback:
Our company recently had an employee meeting. Senior leadership conducted the session to talk about the status of the company in terms of finances, jobs, etc. At the end of the meeting, they asked if anyone had questions. One employee raised his hand and proceeded with a 10-minute monologue on communication and some other points. The overall message was good however, senior leadership and myself thought the delivery was negative.
After the meeting, the employee asked me what I thought of their comments and if I felt it should have been kept out of that forum. I replied the overall message was fine and appropriate for the meeting but it would be good to find a positive way to convey the message.
The employee then blasted me via email stating his new motto is to “shut-up” when asked and my feedback really meant the company didn’t care about his opinion in the least.
I’m very confused about how to deal with this employee. I was only trying to help. Any advice?
We all agree feedback is important. The challenge sometimes with feedback is making sure the recipient is ready for it. People ask for feedback all the time and then get hurt and/or offended when you give it to them.
Same goes for employee feedback meetings. If you call something a feedback meeting, expect feedback. Both positive and negative. And because many people aren’t trained in how to deliver effective feedback, the feedback that is conveyed usually isn’t presented well.
One way to create a better feedback mechanism is to consider adding some structure to feedback meetings. This gives employees the opportunity to provide feedback while at the same time learning some tips on how to deliver feedback. One prior employer of mine would conduct regular town hall type meetings so employees could ask questions and comment about what was going on with the company. Employees would sometimes be hesitant to participate during the meeting. So, to encourage interaction, we created an activity where small groups of employees would work on a question/comment together. Then select a spokesperson to make the comment during the meeting.
This allowed the focus to be on the comment or question – not on the person or personalities.
Adding a layer of structure can also eliminate the awkwardness of someone asking for feedback after the comment is made. Like in this situation, once the employee’s comment is public, there’s no turning back. Then the person really isn’t looking for feedback as much as a validation of their comments (which didn’t happen). Unfortunately, coaching after a feedback meeting can send the subliminal message that someone’s feedback was inappropriate. Even if that’s not the case.
At some point, there will have to be a follow-up conversation with this employee to clear the air. And the company will want to be very conscious of their reply the next time they offer this employee feedback.
Are there any other ways to help employees deliver constructive feedback? Leave your suggestions in the comments.
Image courtesy of mandiberg