Two-Fisted Feedback

A colleague shared an anecdote about a leader in his firm who gives appreciative feedback to his staff, then turns around and tells peers that these employees aren’t doing their jobs. One of these employees found out about this two-fisted approach and was furious.

We spend considerable time espousing the importance of expressing appreciation (among other things), but it’s intolerable if someone says something nice – only because it’s the right thing to do – then says the opposite to another leader.

His “excuse” for this behavior is that he feels awkward delivering uncomfortable feedback. That may be the core of the issue.

It’s no picnic giving difficult feedback, especially when your employees have put a lot of blood and sweat into a project. You aren’t serving them, though, if you not only ignore the truth but say the opposite “just to be nice”.

When you have a hard message to deliver, start by praising what they did well and acknowledge the effort. Then tell them what would have been more effective. Among other things, remind them that it’s not a negative if they ask for help midstream. It’s much better to receive guidance (and a possible course correction) than to flail without direction through the rest of the initiative.

Finish the discussion by asking how you can help them to integrate this kind of guidance in the future. Offer suggestions based on your observations of their performance. Give them tangible advice with encouragement.

The bottom line? Your staff will appreciate your interest in their growth a lot more than a vacant, insincere comment of praise.

Have a great day!

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