How to Give Negative Feedback to Boost Motivation: 8 Steps

Follow these 8 steps to give negative feedback that will actually boost motivation

It may seem like a paradox: giving negative feedback to boost motivation? Sounds impossible.

However, it all depends on how you look at it. As they always say: a mistake is just an opportunity for learning.

Therefore, if you look at negative feedback as being negative, then yes, there’s no way to motivate someone with that.

But, if you look at it as having identified a learning gap and working on correcting it, then it is very motivating indeed. This is a great way to show and improve your leadership style.

And, for the most part, it’s all in how you communicate the feedback. So let’s look at the 8 important steps you need to take to give negative feedback to boost motivation.

#1 Give feedback in private

Negative feedback should never be given in front of others, no matter how urgent the situation is.

There are a lot of emotions and embarrassment associated with negative feedback. Therefore, in order to have a constructive conversation about it, you need to give it in private.

#2 Don’t be emotional

When you provide the feedback, try your best to be without anger or deep disappointment.

Your position as manager or boss is of someone who is objective, neutral and balanced. Therefore, make sure all feedback is the same.

That way, the employee knows it’s real feedback to pay attention to, rather than something emotional which might become insignificant tomorrow.

#3 Make sure the employee understood the directions

Before you go into what the employee did incorrectly, make sure he/she had the resources, knowledge and understanding to attempt the task in the first place.

If the employee didn’t understand or didn’t have the knowledge or resources, then that could explain the incorrect behavior.

#4 Give negative feedback ASAP

Your negative feedback should be delivered as close to the event or behavior as possible.

That way, you will maximize the impact of the feedback. Also, you won’t be accused of implicitly supporting that kind of behavior by staying silent for too long.

#5 Be specific in your negative feedback

Don’t use vague language when you give feedback. Be direct when you identify the situation your’e talking about. Also, you need to describe exactly what the behavior or action was that you found inappropriate or incorrect.

Lastly, make sure you explain how this negative behavior is impacting the other employees or the company in general.

This is one of the most important skills a small business owner needs to have.

#6 Give a plan

Giving negative feedback is more than just complaining. It’s also about solving problems.

You need to be proactive in the feedback that you give and work with the employee to create a plan of action that will improve the behavior or stop it from happening again.

#7 Use “I” throughout

When you give the feedback, you should be using the personal pronoun “I” throughout, to communicate that this feedback is from you to the employee.

For example, don’t say “This action needs to be taken.” Instead, say, “I need you to take this action in order to…”

#8 Watch out for any improvements

You don’t have to wait until results are reached before you can state your appreciation. For example, if on the way to the positive result the employee makes progress in smaller ways, you should thank him/her for working hard on it.

This works by reinforcing the positive behavior and it can act as a strong motivator.

With these steps, you’ll be able to provide lots of motivation for your employees by objectively and methodically giving proper negative feedback.