Many people find it easier to complain about people they work with behind their backs. So they build and build their anger and annoyance and drive their loved ones and close friends crazy, meanwhile leaving the ‘difficult’ person or poor performer making more mistakes and often unaware.
How many of us say these things or repeatedly hear these complaints? Or are we the one being complained about?
She’s so annoying
He makes mistakes all the time
She’s rude and arrogant and never listens
I end up doing it myself because he is too much hard work
Everyone finds him hard to work with
She’s never on time and doesn’t care
I only ever see him on Facebook or texting friends
Her work is not the standard we expect
I see no motivation at all – except to leave each day
I regret hiring him – his work performance is way below standard and not what we agreed as KPIs
Organisations need to develop a culture that encourages people to give and receive feedback professionally. Train everyone with the skills and make it something done day-to-day, not avoided or left to a long-off performance appraisal.
Encourage more positive feedback because that boosts morale and when there are issues, give constructive feedback and be open to receiving it.
Here are some critical reminders:
Don’t avoid giving feedback – instead discuss feedback respectfully
People often feel anxious about giving feedback with a big build up of “having to say something” to someone. Let’s try and change that and make it a normal part of everyday work. Make it a respectful discussion, and a way to change and improve.
And don’t wait days, weeks, and months for it to get worse. Do it same day or next working day. No point brewing for days at home. Set some ground rules with your team to make feedback a regular part of the work.
Don’t only criticize – instead give balanced and specific feedback
Giving positive feedback sounds easy but many people don’t give it and most want more. So the best thing to do if you see a good job done by a team member is tell them and say why it is a good job, be specific. And if you have constructive feedback to give – don’t just make it a download of criticism. Be sensitive to others’ feelings. Some people feel attacked and even bullied ‘tough’ feedback, so be ready with specific examples and empathy for why this may have occurred. Be open to hearing their point of view.
Don’t be defensive or upset – instead welcome feedback to improve
Most people feel attacked when someone wants to give them ‘constructive’ feedback. Perhaps it brings back memories of being told off by parents or teachers.
That is not what it is about. We should welcome the feedback and be grateful we have a chance to know what needs to be changed and we get to grow and develop in our role. Ask for examples if the feedback sounds vague – not to be accusing but rather for learning. We are far more likely to learn and improve our skills by taking on board constructive feedback and trying new ways of working.
Don’t exaggerate and blame – take responsibility and solve issues
Sometimes people spill out their pent-up emotions – mainly frustrations – when giving feedback. It should not be about blaming and repeating or exaggerating. It may be that in giving the feedback you need to take some responsibility for the issue at hand, or help work out a solution.
You could try phrases like these:
Maybe I have been unclear about the standards we require
Let’s work on this together and find a way to turn this around
We should all be grateful to receive feedback directly to our faces, not given to someone else as gossip behind our backs.
Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.