After Giving Tough Feedback Good Bosses Do 5 Things

Bosses think, “I’m kicking you in the pants and I want you to like it.”

Bosses call it constructive feedback. Maybe it feels like a punch to the face?

People bleed after tough feedback. Maybe you are the 20% who stand up, salute, and joyfully shout, “Kick me again, please!” But *80% either actively or passively look for new employment.

Bosses call it constructive feedback. Maybe it feels like a punch to the face? Image of a boxer getting punched.

I prefer a pat on the head to a punch to the face.

Think back to corrective feedback you have received. How did you feel? Angry, embarrassed, discouraged, hurt, resentful, confused, ashamed, defensive. Did you complain to others? Did you sulk at work?

5 things great bosses do after giving tough feedback:

1. Monitor responses.

If you’re not concerned about responses, you should be. Are shoulders drooping? Maybe it’s anger or resentment. Don’t judge. Don’t pretend everything’s OK. Just notice.

2. Provide space.

Corrective feedback stirs up stress. Stress makes you stupid, moody, negative, and unproductive. Stress-inducing feedback shrinks your brain. Give people a few days to lick their wounds.

3. Approach with empathy.

Tell a story about when you felt hurt and angry after receiving tough feedback.

“Hey, Mary. Maybe you don’t feel this way, but I felt angry and resentful after receiving tough feedback. It hurt.” Be specific and let people glimpse your frailty.

Gently ask, “What’s going on for you?”

Listen to their response. Acknowledge. Don’t probe too deep.

4. Turn forward.

Acknowledge negative responses.

Remid them of their aspirations. Good bosses know people’s aspirations.

Gently ask, “How would you like to serve your future self right now?” Or

“What will move you toward your aspirations?”

5. Offer support.

Let people know they matter to you. You’re counting on them. Don’t offer to do their job. Don’t pretend it doesn’t hurt. Ask, “How can I help?”

What do good bosses do after delivering tough feedback?

Dig deeper:

Refresh your awareness of stress: How to Move from Stupid to Smart when You’re Stressed

Give feedback skillfully: 3 Ways to Give Feedback that Works

*Why Employees Are Fed Up With Feedback