Providing feedback is an important part of being a manager; it gives employees the information they need to excel in their positions and make corrections as required. But, if your feedback is too harsh, it can be surprisingly ineffective. While being direct is great, the wrong tone or wording can be more discouraging to workers than inspiring. So, how do you know if your feedback is too much for some staff members to handle? Here are some signs.

When You Walk Into a Room, Your Team Stops Talking

Many people assume that when a room goes silent when they cross through the door, everyone was talking about you. While this can be the case, it often isn’t. However, it could be a sign that people are afraid of what your presence means or they don’t want to risk getting an earful for not snapping to attention.

Often, when employees are simply being respectful, the current conversations will simply die down as people finish their thoughts. An immediate silence is a sign there’s more to it than respect, and harsh feedback can be a catalyst for such fear.

They Don’t Ask Follow-Up Questions

Yes, giving constructive criticism can be a painful experience, both for yourself and the employee. However, once tough, but solid, feedback is provided, most workers will provide a response or ask questions about it. This includes requesting more information, providing their side of the story, discussing a plan to improve or even respectfully disagreeing.

All of those talking points are natural and generally should be considered a good sign. However, if the employee clams up, it could be an indication your feedback was a bit too much to bear.

When some people feel threatened, they’re inclined to shut down mentally. This could be them getting lost in thought as they try to wrap their heads around what they are being told or simply a defense mechanism to avoid any more wrath. While a single instance of such a response isn’t necessarily a red flag, if multiple employees have the same reaction, you might want to forgo a bit of the tough criticism and work to be more constructive. Otherwise, your workers might not be able to do anything positive with the information, causing them to repeat the same mistakes or fail to improve.

How to Give Constructive Feedback

Constructive feedback is about more than being direct. While getting to the point is important, how you present the information is just as vital. Begin by focusing on the information or the issue at hand. Include observations, but avoid any emotional implications. Additionally, stay away from phrases like “need to” or “you should” as they don’t often lead to valuable data on how a person can improve.

Also, work to express concern in your tone, not anger or frustration. You want the worker to be aware that improvements are needed, but don’t want to use language that turns negative feedback into a personal criticism.

Looking for some feedback?

At PrideStaff, we recognize it’s a fine line between providing constructive feedback and being negative. If you’d like more information about how to keep these conversations helpful or are looking to invite a new member to your team, our skilled team of professionals can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members today.

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