Giving feedback is uncomfortable. When you are transitioning from an individual contributor to a new manager, you may not feel confident to deliver hard feedback to your direct report. Here are a few tips to help you get confident to ensure the conversation goes as smoothly as possible.
1. Fear of not being liked
One of the top reasons why we don’t like giving feedback is the underlying fear of not being liked by your direct report after you’ve given them feedback.
You might be someone who has a fear of conflict and when you are trying to give someone negative feedback, your mind can trick you into feeling nervous and scared to have to ruin someone’s day and potentially not be liked anymore. The easier thing to do is to not provide feedback and hope that things will resolve themselves.
As a manager, your role is for the team to trust you, not to like you (a lesson I had to learn myself). If you can be direct and honest, your team will learn that you actually care about their growth and will begin to trust you. On the flip side, if you consistently miss the opportunity to give them feedback because it’s uncomfortable for you, your team will realize that you’re putting your own comfort above their learning and that realization can erode their trust in you.
2. Feedback is actually a good thing
It may sound cliche but feedback truly is a gift and you might be the first manager who has truly listened and is brave enough to give direct feedback to this person. It might even be the first time they’re hearing this ever in their career. This really is a gift for them because, throughout their career, this employee could have been doing things wrong, could have been bulldozing through their career and putting others down even with their best of intentions and nobody has bothered or cared enough to give them that feedback.
Even though they may not want to hear it at the beginning but once they work through it they would be grateful that you cared enough to push through it.
3. Focus on the end goal.
If this person becomes better after your feedback, the team ultimately becomes better for it. You are sacrificing short-term pain for long-term gain. Be brave enough to sit in the room and brave enough to face the discomfort of giving that feedback. In the long-term, your team would be grateful for that.
You will see better teamwork which is ultimately your goal as a manager.
4. Recognize the impact of one underperforming individual
It’s amazing to me how an underperforming team member can negatively impact a team that is otherwise doing very well.
All it takes is just one underperforming individual so feedback truly is important here because once you’re able to work with this individual, you’ll be amazed how much more improved the team would be.
5. Practice giving feedback
When I first started as a manager, just the thought of giving feedback makes me nauseous. The discomfort of sitting in a room or virtual room to tell someone the mistakes they made can sound daunting. After so many opportunities to practice and really going through with the fear, I rarely hesitate to give feedback. You might not be there today but know that like any skill, you improved with practice.
Start practising with easier feedback. Prepare and practice using a script with tougher feedback and rehearse a few times. If it helps, role-playing the conversation with someone else will help make you feel more confident.
Once you’re ready, you can start using the Get-Give-Merge-Go framework to help you structure your feedback conversation. This framework has been tested by myself and coaching clients with great success.