How can I deliver negative feedback fairly and effectively?

Friday July 10 2020


By Jane Muiruri

Dear Jane,
What is the best way to deliver negative feedback to my colleagues? Working remotely has been a challenge for some of my co-workers and while this can be explained, my team is falling behind rather uncharacteristically.
My attempts to raise these issues with them have not borne fruits. I do not want to appear like I do not understand the difficulties they are going through and be looked at as a source of negative energy. What is the best way to deliver negative feedback without crashing my team’s spirit? Julie

Dear Julie,
Does your team have objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound? How often do you engage them now that they are working remotely? You can consider holding either weekly or fortnightly meetings to agree on the roles and priorities of the department as well as the realistic timelines.

Seek feedback from the team on why they are not able to meet their obligations. There could be a genuine reason, and you could resolve the challenge if you open up the issue for discussions rather than blame the team.

I have found that individual sessions or meetings work better than group discussions on performance. If you meet every team member individually, you will be able to focus on the person’s specific challenges, and discuss the particular areas where he or she needs to improve.
Mob psychology can work against you if you attempt to blindly explore the reasons why your team is struggling to beat set deadlines. You may need to ask your subordinates if the deadlines are realistic.

If they are not, find a way of moving things around so that you and your coworkers can coexist more peacefully. Also find out whether the team is having technological challenges.
Develop a culture of regularly appreciating the team’s achievements. If you focus only on their shortcomings, you may negatively impact their self-esteem.

Always reprimand colleagues in private and offer praise in public. During this lockdown occasioned by Covid-19, many psychosocial challenges that have emerged, and it is good human resource practice to offer your team access to a counsellor so that they can take care of their mental health.


Jane Muiruri,
Senior HR Manager,
Nation Media Group