Here are a few things you should NOT say when you’re offering feedback:
DON’T: Give critical feedback instead of positive feedback
It can be difficult to construct feedback in such a way that your employee understands what you’re saying, understands where there are problems and where they need to improve, but doesn’t walk away feeling like you were criticizing them. When you’re giving feedback, you want to be as positive as possible.
Encourage good behavior and be sure to point out that it’s appreciated. If the only feedback you ever give your employees is critiques on things you’d like them to do better, you’re going to end up with a workforce that feels like nothing they do is good enough for you (that’s bad).
DON’T: Be demeaning, rude, or make your ‘feedback’ a personal attack
Leave any personal feelings, frustration, and/or vendettas at the door when it comes to giving professional feedback. There’s absolutely no reason to insult or demean your employees, even if their performance is poor or if they have numerous problem areas.
Make sure that you’ve thought out what you’re going to say, first, and have a healthy plan for addressing and solving these problems before going to speak with your employee.
Essentially: Focus on the facts, not your emotions about the facts.
DON’T: Lose your message trying to be polite or tactful
You don’t want to insult anyone, but you do want to be honest with your feedback. If you have a concern about a certain behavior, want to address a problem someone has, or talk about correcting a mistake someone has made, then do so. Don’t beat around the bush!
Clarity is important in communication, and if you aren’t clear with your feedback, you risk allowing or even encouraging bad habits in your office. If you have a specific example of a problem or mistake someone is making, use it - speak openly with your employees about it, and work with them to come up with a solution.
DON’T: Put off giving feedback
There are plenty of reasons you may put off giving feedback. Maybe you haven’t noticed anything that you feel warrants feedback. Maybe you are hoping that any problem behaviors or mistakes are just going to be short-lived or one-off things. Maybe you just don’t quite know how to confront your employees for feedback.
Regardless of the reason, putting off giving feedback is never a good idea. You might focus on what not to say, but say something! If you haven’t noticed any problems that need addressing, great! Let your employees know what great work they’re doing, and encourage them to keep it up, or push for new goals. If you are sitting on a problem hoping it’ll resolve itself, bad! Don’t wait until a problem has become too big to ignore or personally frustrating to take care of it!
In the end, keeping a regular, open line of communication between yourself and your team is the most important thing you can do. Your words have power, so be sure you use them - just don’t say anything you’ll regret later!