Learn how to give effective negative feedback: How to make feedback a habit in your company

We are all uncomfortable giving negative feedback to other people… especially in the workplace. We can make someone upset by not saying things the right way. For this reason, it is important to know exactly what feedback is.

Despite this, being willing to give negative feedback, and to receive it, is critical to professional development and company growth

Without someone helping employees to detect blind spots or highlighting weaknesses when developing a project, employees will not be able to improve their job performance.

What is negative feedback

Negative feedback is a type of feedback that aims to point out what an employee has done wrong and offer recommendations for improvement. This type of feedback can be difficult to receive, but it is key to the personal and professional growth of employees. 

Generating the habit of giving negative feedback has great benefits at all levels:

  • On employees: it can be the motivation employees need to improve, in turn improving performance. In addition, honest and helpful feedback fosters an environment of trust and mutual respect among colleagues.
  • In the company: if employees are improving their performance, the quality of work is likely to increase. This could have a major impact on the company’s reputation. In addition, timely negative feedback can save time and money in the long run by preventing mistakes that could lead to high costs.

Still, you should not forget that there are other types of feedback:

  • Positive feedback: this is a type of feedback that focuses on employees’ strengths, talents and achievements. Giving positive feedback is the best way to recognize aspects such as effort, good attitude or great leadership to employees. 
  • Constructive feedback: aims to give advice to employees, collaborators or colleagues to help them improve or correct some behavior.

Keep in mind that there are 9 types of feedback from which the most suitable one should be chosen for each particular situation.

18 Negative feedback examples well given

Learn how to give effective negative feedback: How to make feedback a habit in your company

As you may have seen in the previous section, giving negative feedback is very delicate. Here is a list of situations in which negative feedback would be needed and what could be a good approach message.

1. Lack of punctuality

“This morning I noticed that you were late for the meeting. Do you think next time we should set the meeting time together? That way we can make sure we arrive on time”.

2. Poor quality of work

“The report you sent yesterday did not meet the standards we expected. If you need it, we can work together to make sure the next one is more complete and accurate.”

3. Poor communication

“Sometimes I feel like you don’t maintain fluid communication with the team. How do you see if we make an effort to have more regular meetings to keep each other informed?”

4. Lack of collaboration

“I noticed that your participation in team projects has declined. Is there anything we can do to make it easier for you to participate?”

5. Lack of initiative

“I would like to see you take more responsibility and take initiative in performing the tasks assigned to you. Is there anything I can do to facilitate this?”

6. Failure to meet deadlines

“The last two times you didn’t deliver the project on time. Is there anything you can think of that we can work on to make sure you meet deadlines in the future?”

7. Not following processes

“I noticed that you didn’t follow the established process for this task and it didn’t come out as expected. Do you want to review the correct process together to make sure it comes out better next time?”

8. Not paying attention to details

“There are several errors in this report. Do you take extra time to review it carefully to make sure it is complete and accurate?”

Two employees talking to each other at the office with laptops on the table

9. Lack of technical skills

“In order for you to perform this task in a better way next time, you will need specific technical skills. Is there anything I can do to help you work on them?”

10. Not taking the customer's needs into account

“We received a complaint from the customer because their expectations were not met. Do you want to go over together how we can better address the customer’s needs for next time?”

11. Negativity in the work environment

“I’ve noticed that sometimes your attitude can negatively influence the team, creating a bad work environment. Do you want to talk about how we can maintain a more positive attitude?”

12. Failure to implement feedback received

“I saw that you haven’t implemented any of the suggestions I gave you in last month’s feedback. Do you want to work together to make sure we implement them in the best possible way?”

13. Being disorganized

“I’ve noticed that you sometimes have difficulty keeping your tasks organized. Do you want me to give you a hand in coming up with a system to help you stay organized in your work?”

14. Not taking responsibility

“I realized that you didn’t assume you had made a mistake. We are not going to judge you for making mistakes, but it is important that we take responsibility for the decisions we make.”

15. Inappropriate behavior

“Your behavior this morning was not appropriate for this situation. Do you want to talk about the boundaries we should not cross in this type of situation? That way we’ll prevent it from happening again in the future.”

16. Lack of proactivity

“I’d like to see you take more initiative in identifying new opportunities for the business. How about thinking of some ideas and sharing them with me? We can evaluate them together so that next time you can do it on your own.”

17. Not meeting expectations

“I noticed that you are not meeting the expectations set for your job position. Do you need me to help you identify areas where you should improve and prepare a plan to do so?”

18. Lack of interpersonal skills

“I’ve seen that you have difficulty communicating with the rest of the team. Do you want to work together on improving your interpersonal skills?”

The dangerous consequences of NOT providing negative feedback

When you notice a weakness, detrimental habit, or poor practice in an employee, it may still feel easier to ignore the problem than to address it upfront.

But passing up the opportunity to provide negative feedback can ultimately have far more damaging consequences than the discomfort caused by a potentially tense conversation. 

Here are just a few dangerous consequences of letting poor work habits, bad attitudes, or weak spots go unchecked:

  • Toxic work relationships.: if a coworker is engaging in gossip, backstabbing, or passive-aggressiveness, this can quickly turn to a toxic work relationship. This situation will ultimately damage team performance, and even cause employee turnover.
  • Poor workflows: when a coworker is unintentionally contributing to an inefficient workflow through poor habits or lack of accountability, the company suffers. Missed deadlines, lack of administrative efficiency, and poor use of time and resources are just a few potential outcomes.
  • Missed profits: a company is most profitable when it’s most efficient, innovative, and healthy. And efficiency, innovation, and health are produced by willingness to adapt, change, and resolve weaknesses.
  • Lack of personal development: finally, coworkers miss out on valuable opportunities to grow as professionals when you don’t provide them critical feedback (and actionable steps to improve).

In short, providing negative feedback is sometimes necessary to ensure the success of a company, team, and individual. 

How to give negative feedback in 9 steps

How to give feedback effectively? The guide to make feedback a habit in your company

Depending on your company’s culture, feedback can be welcomed… or received uncomfortably. If you don’t know how to give negative feedback and want to get the best possible result, we recommend you follow these 9 steps:

  1. Be specific.
  2. Use “I” before “you”.
  3. Choose the most appropriate place.
  4. Do it in a timely manner.
  5. Make the impact clear.
  6. Make it constructive.
  7. Keep in mind the relationship with that person.
  8. Opt for collaboration.
  9. Make it a friendly conversation.

We also recommend to follow the SBI Feedback model to structure your feedback.

Two female employees giving positive feedback to each other

1. Be specific

You should not leave room for subjectivity when giving negative feedback. Do not speak in a very general way when giving negative feedback. Rather highlight a specific moment when things could have gone better. For example:

  • General: “You are a poor communicator.”
  • Specific: “It wasn’t clear what you were trying to tell us in Thursday’s meeting”.

Giving negative feedback in this way helps employees think specifically about what they need to improve. It also makes the feedback better received.

2. Use “I” before “you”

To avoid making an employee defensive, try using “I” and “we”. Avoid using “you” or “you guys.” For example:

  • “I”: “I’ve noticed that lately I’ve been receiving updates on your projects outside of your deadlines.”
  • “You”: “You always deliver your project updates after the deadlines”.

3. Choose the most appropriate place

Don’t give negative feedback to an employee in front of other people. Choose a quiet, private place to talk to him so you don’t embarrass him in front of others.

4. Do it in a timely manner

If a specific incident requires you to give negative feedback to an employee or co-worker, don’t wait weeks or months to say something.  Seek to do so early and in a timely manner. The situation should still be recent and relevant.

5. Make the impact clear

Emphasizing how a bad habit or weakness negatively impacts team performance helps the employee receive negative feedback with a better attitude. For example, if an employee is not meeting deadlines, you can point out how their tardiness is causing the rest of the project to fall behind as well.

You can convey a message similar to this:

“When you didn’t deliver the first draft on time, it pushed back the other agreed-upon deadlines. This only makes the relationship with the client deteriorate.”

6. Make it constructive

Do you want to give employees a possible solution, or a tip that will help them improve some weakness? Constructive feedback is a good way to make them see how to break that bad habit and be even better. We leave you with this guide on how to give constructive feedback that is really actionable and useful for your employee. In addition, it will help you to make sure that your advice is well received.

7. Keep in mind the relationship with that person

Are you going to talk to an employee, a manager or someone in a higher role than you? Keep in mind what the dynamics are between your roles, so that you can approach that person appropriately and according to the situation.

8. Opt for collaboration

Do your best not to sound arrogant or show superiority. Try to show that you want to help improve the situation. We give you two examples:

Dos compañeras de trabajo compartiendo feedback en la empresa

9. Make it a friendly conversation

Finally, relax a bit and try to have a casual, friendly conversation. Giving constructive feedback, even if it is negative, helps to achieve greater team bonding. It is a way to make the relationship between colleagues stronger, as long as the dynamic is correct and empathetic.

How to handle negative feedback: when NOT to give it

Anyone can work to improve behaviors or habits, but there are some other situations where there are things that cannot be changed.

Here are some of those situations where negative feedback is not seen as constructive advice:

  • When a person does not have a skill or ability that comes naturally. For example, the ability to speak in public or to write.
  • A way of communicating because that person comes from a specific culture or region. 
  • A personality quirk. 
  • Some deficiency due to lack of work experience.

When giving negative feedback, first ask yourself: is there a simple solution to this problem, or is it all due to a natural trait of the person in question?

Types of negative feedback

Here are some situations in which negative feedback may be necessary:

  • Unhelpful behavior or a bad attitude. 
  • Poor time management. 
  • Underperformance in a specific area. 
  • Confusing or mixed communication.
  • Lack of preparation for meetings, presentations, etc. 
  • Lack of willingness to be a team player.

While all of these behaviors or habits can be modified, there may be situations in which a practice or habit can’t be modified.

Here are some situations in which negative feedback may not be constructive:

  • A lack of natural skill or ability, such as public speaking or quality of writing. 
  • A communication style that’s the result of culture, language, or background.
  • A personality quirk. 
  • A deficiency due to lack of experience.

When considering negative feedback, ask yourself this first: Is there a simple solution to the perceived problem, or is it the result of natural factors that may not be modified?

How to respond to negative feedback

New guide! How to make feedback a habit in your company

No matter how well an employee performs, negative feedback is inevitable. Whether it’s from a boss, a coworker, a customer, or even a friend, receiving criticism can be uncomfortable and challenging. However, it’s important to remember that negative feedback can be valuable, helping employees improve and grow. The key is in how we show them how to respond to negative feedback.

So how can we teach employees to respond to negative feedback? Show them these 6 steps to do it effectively:

  1. Appreciate the feedback
  2. Show gratitude
  3. Reflect on the feedback received
  4. Share your reflections
  5. Ask a question
  6. Use negative feedback to grow

1. Appreciate the feedback

The first thing we should do when we receive positive feedback is to thank the person who gave it to us. This shows that we value their opinion and that we are willing to listen to their comments. It also encourages the colleague to continue sharing feedback with us.

2. Show gratitude

In addition to acknowledging the feedback, it is important to show our gratitude for the recognition received. This can be done with a simple phrase such as “I am very grateful for your words”, or by showing how happy we are to have received it.

3. Reflect on the feedback received

Once we have thanked and shown our gratitude, it is important to take some time to reflect on the positive feedback we have received. This may involve thinking about how we have achieved that positive behavior or how we can continue to improve in the future.

4. Share your reflections

After reflecting on the feedback, it is important to share our thoughts and reflections with the person who gave us the feedback. This shows, once again, that we value their opinion and that we are willing to learn and do even better.

5. Ask a question

If the feedback received was brief or lacking in detail, we may want more information. In this case, we can ask for more detailed feedback about the negative behavior that the manager or colleague has highlighted, or ask how we could continue to improve in that area.

6. Use negative feedback to grow

Finally, it is important to take advantage of positive feedback to continue to grow and improve in the future. This may involve looking for new opportunities to apply the skills and behaviors that have been highlighted, or seeking additional feedback to continue to improve.

[Email Sample] How to write a negative feedback email

Subject: Concerns about your performance

Dear [Name],

I hope you’re doing well. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to take a moment and discuss some concerns that have arisen recently.

Over the last month, several mistakes have brought my attention. This mistakes have had negative consequences for the team and the company. For example, the tasks you’re working on were delayed and this caused the project to be paused. Because of this, several clients have complained about the quality of work they’re receiving.

As the People Manager, I’ve talked to your manager about this situation and come up with the idea of writing you this email to understand if there’s something going on that may need our attention or something we can help you with.

These are the areas where your manager and I have found room for improvement:

  1. Attention to detail: your work needs to be done accurately. Double-checking your work is essential and can go a long way in avoiding errors.
  2. Communication: communicating with your team is key to ensure all projects are running smoothly. Please, ensure you communicate effectively and on a timely basis.
  3. Time management: meeting deadlines is critical for succeeding in our work. If you find you’re having trouble meeting deadlines, I invite you to talk to your manager about this.

I would like to meet with you and your manager to talk about these issues and understand how we can help you work more effectively. I encourage you to bring to this conversation any questions you may have for me or your manager.

We really value your contributions to the company and we’re committed to helping you improve in any aspect you need help with.

Best regards,

[Your name]

The goal of this email is to provide negative feedback to an employee who is struggling with their work performance.

  • The email highlights the specific areas where the employee needs to improve and offers guidance on how they can do so. 
  • It also emphasizes that not only their direct manager but the People manager as well are there to support the employee and help them grow and develop in their role. 
  • Overall, the email is meant to be a supportive and constructive conversation starter, encouraging the employee to engage in a dialogue about their performance and potential areas for improvement.

Building a feedback culture

New guide! How to make feedback a habit in your company

Of course giving negative feedback is uncomfortable, but is it worth it? Without a doubt.

As we mentioned earlier, negative feedback is critical to building a company culture that leads to team success and progress.  Negative feedback has nothing to do with being unfriendly or the status quo of a company. In reality the message it conveys is “we can do better”.

At the end of the day any type of feedback, negative, constructive, or positive, helps build a stronger, more cohesive team. In short, create a feedback culture

  • Avoids generating a toxic work environment.
  • Helps the whole team to be more efficient.
  • It allows us to develop trust and honesty in the company. Two values that cannot be missing to have a healthy company culture.
  • And much more!

Using a software like Nailted will help you make feedback a habit among employees more easily. You’ll make feedback part of your culture and make it a regular process in your company. Nailted offers employees an accessible and convenient channel to give feedback to their peers and managers. This makes feedback feel natural in the work environment.

People reacted to this story.
Comments to: 18 Negative Feedback Examples: How to give negative feedback
  • 15/02/2021

    Outstanding post, I think website owners should larn a lot from this weblog its really user genial .

  • 23/02/2021

    hi people. Decent reading. Nice blog design too. continue your great work.

Comments are closed.