Healthy communication is an important aspect of the workplace. This can take many forms – from constructive criticism to casual conversation – but it's vital that it remains professional and polite. One of the most difficult types of communication is feedback. Many employers or managers either approach the situation too delicately or with not enough tact, while some employees are nervous for any kind of performance review. These conversations should not be regarded with such fear, as feedback is a necessary and often helpful facet of a business. People on both sides of the desk need to adjust the way they perceive these evaluations, as the anxiety makes the process much less effective.
Fear of feedback
Strong uneasiness about feedback can stem from any number of factors. Some people just don't like talking about themselves while others see criticism as a direct personal attack. Feedback should not evoke such strong feelings if it's delivered correctly, and yet there are countless people around the world who have genuine misgivings about these kinds of conversations.
According to the Harvard Business Review, most people assume the worst when review meetings come up. However, 74 percent of respondents noted that they were aware of problems related to the negative feedback they were given and were not surprised that employers brought them up. Perhaps the fear comes from a worse expected reaction from the employer, when in fact the feedback could simply be a jumping-off point for improvement.
In order to engage in fruitful feedback discussions, the attitude surrounding the dialogue must be fixed. As long as feedback is perceived as scary, employers and their employees alike will be unable to get the most out of meetings.
The first step to eradicate the seemingly innate fear of feedback is to make conversations about professional performance a regular occurrence. When constructive criticism comes few and far between, it can feel much more daunting to enter a manager's office. ITBusinessEdge also noted that vague feedback isn't helpful, and can lead to more anxiety while an employee attempts to unpack it. Offering specific solutions and things to work on will lead to better results.
The source indicated that cutting out negative language such as "cannot" or "should not" during these sessions will help people feel more comfortable and open to suggestion. Negativity causes people to get defensive or shut down, which will only lead to more problems instead of remedying the ones at hand.
Feedback from a manager or employer should encourage employees to do better and become engaged in their progress, rather than make them feel uncertain and unhappy. TribeHR reported that employees who are highly engaged are more productive and show signs of long-term growth.
Feedback should not be something that people shy away from. It's a helpful tool in the workplace that leads to stronger employees. Should an employer or manager feel that his or her communication skills are not as refined as they could be to facilitate better feedback conversations, they should seek out training seminars that can hone these skills and provide the tools to mold better employees and workplaces.