We all want to be liked. That’s especially true in an office/work environment. But good leaders know that sometimes, being honest and frank, keeps your employees moving forward. Too often a leader’smfirst desire is to be a friend to their direct report versus an objective observer who discerns behavior that can be strengthened.
Stop Worrying About Feedback
You can’t lead if you are overly concerned about the feedback you give. Rather, worry about how you’ll deliver your coaching to them. Have your feedback be a contribution, not a castigation.
Remember Their Goals
The way to succeed at delivering sensitive/tough feedback is to initiate the conversation with a developmental goal you know your direct has from your previous conversations.
You might say; “I realize a goal of yours is to be viewed as a true adviser by your client, where your ideas are considered smart and timely, is that right?”
You can then introduce your feedback pursuant to this goal/desire upon which you both have agreed. In this way, your observations are not seen/heard as a criticism but rather a contribution.
Soft Serve is for Ice Cream
It doesn’t serve people to soften your feedback; it serves them to accurately pinpoint what they did that was not aligned with the developmental goal they said was dear to them. Sugar-coating it, or not making your points strongly, leaves room for interpretation on their part. They might think they did an adequate job, when in fact you were trying to communicate a much different situation. Give it to them straight, based on their goals, and get to the root of the issue. Your direct will get over any feeling of inadequacy when you are both working on a solution.
And they’ll like you for it!