Turning Negative Feedback from Your Employees Into a Positive

By Michael Heller

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If your organization has implemented 360-degree feedback, you’re likely feeling effects like better communication, team development, career development and more. While 360-degree feedback has many positives for the team as a whole, it may be odd or difficult to receive upwards feedback from your employees at first. This is especially when critical feedback comes into play. Negative feedback does not have to be a bad thing, though. How can you turn it into a positive? Follow these steps:

Control Your Emotions

It’s difficult to not feel some sort of negative emotion when receiving criticism from an employee, but it’s important to remember that this is not an attack on your character. Just like when you deliver critical feedback to an employee, this is a way to better the workplace. This type of team communication is important, as 33% of employees say a lack of open, honest communication has the most negative impact on employee morale. Avoid defensiveness as a default, step back and try to see it from the employee or colleague’s perspective.

Assume Good Intentions

As you take the time to see the feedback from the employee’s perspective, don’t automatically jump to conclusions about their intentions. Default to believing they are not “out to get you” but are instead interested in seeing you succeed further. Creating a workplace with open communication means receiving negative feedback sometimes since no one is perfect. In fact, 92% of respondents agreed with the assertion “negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.” It’s important to accept this for what it is and not assume underlying harmful motivation.

Own Your Mistakes

Deflecting is a tactic everyone has a tendency to use when it comes to criticism. Assuming responsibility, though, is part of what it means to be a leader. Let your employee know you’ve heard their concerns and understand where they’re coming from. It will help develop a stronger connection and open the lines of communication so comfortable approaching you with concerns in the future.

Take Time To Clarify Expectations

These feedback and performance meetings are mutually beneficial conversations that will improve performance, set goals as well as explore options for improving employee satisfaction. If your team feels like their feedback is being heard and addressed in future situations, they’ll likely be happier to work with you as a manager. Use the feedback to make improvements accordingly and navigate what a good employee/manager relationship looks like.

Use It To Better Yourself As A Leader

Use this opportunity to think about how you can improve your overall behavior and attitude as a leader in the organization. If one employee has these concerns, it’s likely others do, too. Make a commitment to be conscious of your leadership style moving forward and how you can improve it all together, not just in accordance with the feedback you received. Consider all feedback as a stepping stone to realizing greater success in your career.

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