While praise is easy to give, it is far more challenging to criticise your employees but it’s crucial to occasionally show your employees where they need to improve.

To be an effective team leader or manager you need to be good at both – praise and criticism. That can become tricky and often a double-edged sword, especially in service industry.

Bad feedback can result in demotivation, loss of respect and damage the work relationship with your employees. Good feedback on the other hand can inspire and motivate employees to do better in their jobs. Here are some steps to motivate your people with effective feedback:

More positive than negative

People respond more strongly to negative events than positive ones. The same way as clients react quickly to negative service experience rather than positive ones. In fact the ideal praise-to-criticism ratio suggests that positive interactions must outnumber negative interactions at least five to one.

A study among employees has shown that employees react to a negative interaction with their boss six times more strongly than positive.

When giving negative feedback make sure to firstly communicate very well that this information comes from a second pair of eyes and you are not criticising your employee’s performance. Otherwise you put your employees in a bad mood right away. If you discover mistakes that has very low value in giving criticism it might sometimes make sense to keep that to yourself. Always think about the outcome and how much will this feedback affect the overall result of improvement.

Although you might want to excoriate your employee for what you believe is terrible performance your business gains not much from it.  Nearly half of the employees tend to intentionally decrease their productivity. Take steps to soften the emotional blow and try to focus the message on what you are trying to achieve rather than any intense negative emotions.

Keep negative feedback private and positive public

There’s nothing more humiliating than giving negative feedback in front of other team members. Make sure to deliver your criticism in private and keep the tone collaborative.
Make it clear that the employee still has your support and respect to deal with the issues. The best way to start is saying “Let me provide you with some feedback..” which prepares employee emotionally for what you are about to say.

Your goal is to activate the rational part of employee’s brain, not the defensive emotional part of the brain.

Opposite to negative feedback, you should give positive feedback in front of other team members. You should use any moment to give your employees positive feedback and this is not to be kept in private.
It is very rare to meet people who say that their boss values their achievements. Even if it’s a small ‘thank you for today’, it will show the employee that you respect them and appreciate their efforts, hard work and commitment.

Make it timely

It is very important to give the feedback timely, as soon as possible after the event or situation has occurred. While time passes, memory fades and people can interpret the situations differently.
Even if you think you’d rather wait with negative feedback cause that’s always more difficult to serve, right.. Don’t wait, it won’t get easier over time. The sooner you jump on it and get it over with the more quickly you can move on and decrease the chance that it will come up again.

Ask your employees feedback

The most powerful and beneficial feedback will come from your employee himself. Offer your employee the opportunity to say what he thinks about the situation first and how he feels about it before you give your viewpoint. With taking his response on board first and adding the information you wanted to share, you can give him credit first for his insights and then ask what can be improved and come out with your suggestions. The more you get out from the employee first the easier the conversation will be and the more effective will be the result. Sometimes these kind of discussions can have rather positive outcome and it might strengthen your relationships with your employees.

Stick to the facts and control your emotions

When solving a problem or situation always stick to the facts and talk about what happened, how it affected the client or other team members. Give a chance to explain the situation or behaviour. That comes up very often in customer service that client has complained about the behaviour of specific team member. Your task is not to find the one guilty (the client or employee) but to understand why the situation took place, what triggered it and how can it be avoided. So get as many facts as you can from your employee and if you were there to witness the situation explain what you saw and heard and why it has a bad influence on the overall situation.

Always take pauses after you’ve said something to give an opportunity for the other side to respond without interruption. Sometimes people need different amount of time to respond. If it’s a discussion where your employee needs to prepare, agree a specific time for this so they can prepare. Repeat what you’ve heard your employee said but in your own words so that it reflects his response. If the answer makes you angry or emotional give yourself a moment to collect your thoughts as you don’t want to say anything under negative emotions, this will only create further conflict.

End on a positive note

There’s a saying “People have a habit of becoming what you encourage them to be, not what you nag them to be.”
End on positive note, for example you can encourage your employee that he is capable of improving by using the feedback and that’s why the feedback is given.

Don’t forget to mention that overall you are satisfied with their performance and believe in them. This helps people to see what success looks like and make the right steps next time. If you don’t end on a positive note people can finish feeling disappointed and demotivated. Your main goal is to move on to problem solving.

Now that you have all the tips to give effective feedback to your team, there is no need to dread these conversations but start with them right now.