All Articles Leadership Management How should managers deal with negative feedback from their reports?

How should managers deal with negative feedback from their reports?

4 min read


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1. Find the truth

When you get negative feedback, it can be emotional, so give yourself time and space to process the feedback. Then, realize there’s truth behind every single piece of feedback you get — no matter where it comes from. — Dan Price, Gravity Payments

2. Act like a CEO

Regardless of the level, managers should respond to negative feedback like good CEOs would. They should get more data to confirm or deny the feedback, and if the negative feedback is true, they should unemotionally set a plan to rectify shortcomings by a specific date and use the same reports to judge their progress. Agree in advance what the remedies are if progress isn’t made. — Brennan White, Watchtower

3. Take it personally

Take it personally but not emotionally. Understand it, wrestle with it and come up with an adjustment and response that maximizes output for the organization. After all, that’s why they pay you the big bucks. — Jonathan Swerdlin, Fdbk

4. Respond

As with any feedback, listening is only the first step. If you don’t take action, then you’re cheating your reports and effectively telling the team its input doesn’t really matter. A lone negative report from one team member doesn’t necessarily paint a full picture, but it does bear consideration. Make sure your team knows you value its input by taking steps to resolve the negative issue. — David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

5. Don’t be defensive

Although your first instinct might be to feel insulted and lash out, hold your tongue. Instead, probe for the root of the problem. Ask for details and specifics, so you can assess where improvement is needed and where misunderstandings might be corrected. — Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work

6. Beat them to the punch

Get a sense of what you could be doing better before you formally ask them, and openly admit your faults. If you want to create a culture of open feedback and healthy conflict resolution, lead from strength, but also lead from humility. Recognizing your faults before they say something about them is a great way to get insightful feedback, and it will likely lead them to do the same. — Seth Talbott,

7. Listen

Regardless if the negative feedback is warranted or not, it stems from somewhere. Whether it’s a misperception, miscommunication or you failing as a manager, the feedback exists for a reason. You must figure out why and rectify it. — Phil Chen, Givit

8. Reflect

Reflect on the comments made, and get some alternative perspectives. Chances are, if one person is feeling that way, others are as well — they just don’t have the will to bring it up to you. You should take these opportunities to embrace the fact that you have a strong, open culture where leadership is questioned; it’s a good thing. — Tracey Wiedmeyer, InContext Solutions

9. Breathe

Becoming a leader is just as frustrating a skill as anything. It’s not really a natural gift like we’re often taught. So take a deep breath, figure out if there is truth in the feedback and adjust accordingly. Disregard the feedback that is clearly not reflective of your character, and get a second opinion from someone who is not your best friend or mother. — Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

10. Take it seriously

Confront negative feedback head on, and figure out why it’s there and what you can do better. Don’t just brush it off. People aren’t always going to like you or the decisions and choices you make, and you have to come to terms with that. If you get negative feedback, that person deserves to have his or her concerns taken seriously. — Michael Mogill, Crisp Video Group

11. Address it

Don’t hide behind negative feedback. Rather, address it directly with your team members. Find out why they feel negatively and what you can do differently. — Sarah Schupp, UniversityParent