Chances are you will need to give someone at work feedback about something at sometime. Heck, chances are you already have tried to give feedback during your career. Most people dread difficult conversations at work and don’t realize the career benefits of getting comfortable and adept at them. Whether you want to give feedback to a peer, a direct report, or your boss, you want to get your message across and you want the conversation to end on a positive note. With that end in mind, this advice can help. Your Office Mom has three tips to help you approach people in the workplace confidently.
Giving constructive criticism off the cuff, or trying to wing it, can do more damage than good. Instead, take the time to think through the approach and interpersonal dynamics. People are generally more receptive to an approach that is thoughtful and well planned. Draft a strong opening statement and some bullet points to keep you on track. If it’s a particularly difficult conversation, or you’re concerned about defensiveness or other reaction, don’t hesitate to refer to your notes. There’s no shame in doing so.
Choosing an inappropriate time or place to give feedback can be a big fail in terms of execution. In today’s open workplaces, it’s important to take the person aside, not necessarily to an office, but definitely out of earshot of others. Taking someone aside who is rushing to a meeting or staring down a deadline isn’t ideal because they may be distracted. It can help if you schedule the time and send a meeting invite. You don’t need to say it’s a feedback session, but do say, “I want to talk about the XYZ project and how we can work together.”
To make constructive criticism more specific and relatable, think about context. By describing particular behaviors or actions within a work context enables you to consider the impact on the team or business. Suggesting a solution or different approach that is clear and actionable is beneficial. It also helps if you ask the other person to share their thoughts and ideas. This can lead to a conversation, and ending on a positive note.