Bob's Gutsy Leadership Blog

Camouflaging Negative Feedback – Deadly!

When an employee didn’t perform adequately in a particular situation, it is the duty of the boss to tell them about it, and explain what should have been done. Unfortunately, there are a ton of bosses that find this hard to do. Instead, they will ignore the situation or casually mention it but sugar-coat it in such a way that the employee hardly recognizes it as a serious comment. Hence, the individual goes about their work, thinking all is going well.

In these situations, there is an eventual disaster; typically at the annual performance appraisal. All those times the boss has camouflaged negative feedback come to home to roost. The employee is in a state of disbelief; his or her performance, which seemed good all year, is now being criticized! The boss is angry because the employee is now saying that they never got any negative feedback!

Both parties lose. The employee has developed bad work practices that have gone uncorrected. The boss has not gotten the performance they want. Unfortunately, this scenario happens all the time. How do you prevent it?

1.) Bosses should consider generating written summaries about every two months, simply listing on one page what has gone well, what could have gone better, and the employee’s areas of needed improvement.

2.) Employees should ask the boss for a summary of the type described in 1) above, and if the boss won’t generate it, they should draft it and ask the boss for comments.

3.) Many bosses have very poor people development skills. If you are working for such a person, you are going to have to drag the feedback out of them. Do it, or you are being cheated.

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