How to Deliver Negative Feedback

Sunday, December 1, 2019

By: Andrea Jones

The young man sat before me, palms sweating, eyes darting around the room. I had called him into my office to ask about what seemed to be his lack of interest in the job. “Tim, you seemed very eager to work here during the interview, but now, every time I give you some background reading or expect you to take initiative on a project, you don’t follow through. What’s going on?” I asked.

And just like that, Tim started to cry. He explained that the job wasn’t at all what he expected, and he realized that it just wasn’t a fit for him. He gave his notice within the week.

One of the most uncomfortable things a manager has to do is deliver criticism of an employee’s work, whether it’s as part of an annual review or a conversation about a poor pattern of behavior. And most organizations don’t offer training on how to let an employee know his work quality isn’t up to par.

The good news: There’s a script for that. This article, by Rebecca Fishbein writing for, outlines the steps to ensure that your message gets heard and acted on without crushing your employee’s motivation.

The bottom line: Remember the employee’s feelings and make the conversation feel more like a collaborative effort than a lecture. After all, you’re both on the same team.

Andrea Jones is Rivkin Radler’s Marketing Manager and the founder of On Target Marketing.  To view her LinkedIn profile, click here:

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