Providing feedback to your teams isn’t necessarily an easy task, especially when it comes to raising criticism, however constructive it may be. In an article published on the website of Harvard Business Reviewthe authors of one study even showed that, for some leaders, giving a feedback negative had a negative impact… on the leader himself. How do you guard against it? Here are some answers.
500 leaders were interviewed for this study. “We found that for some and some leaders, their effectiveness took a major hit right after giving their feedback”write the authors .
Why do some people feel this emotion? Reading the article, a hypothesis emerges: it depends on the degree of empathy that the leaders are capable of.
“While the ability to empathize is an essential leadership skill in many contexts, we have found that: leaders with a lot of empathy actually became less effective after giving negative feedback, while leaders with little empathy became more effective. »
Empathy, the poisonous gift of leaders?
What’s especially interesting about this analysis is that leaders who show empathy have been shown to provide more constructive feedback than others. In question ? Their ability to put themselves in the place of their interlocutor. “Yet our studies have shown that leaders who provide feedback that is most beneficial to the recipient are likely to become less effective themselves after giving it”the authors further warn in their article.
Are the most empathetic managers and other team leaders doomed to perpetual inefficiency for the sake of their colleagues? In fact, should they learn to curtail empathy to keep sending negative feedback to their teams? For the authors of the study, the answer lies with organizations. They can mobilize to “enabling their leaders to provide meaningful feedback while minimizing the impact it can have on their mental state and effectiveness”.
Recognize the needs of each personality
First step: it is ” recognize that leaders of high and low empathy face different challenges and are therefore likely to benefit from different forms of support”, we can read in the article. In other words, it is a matter of accepting this reality: the profiles are rich and diversified in management. An organization must be able to listen and adapt to every personality.
Step Two: Organizations need to recognize that for some people, criticizing (however constructive) comes with significant energy costs. It is then a matter of exploring different strategies to minimize these costs for those involved. The article published in Harvard Business Review quote for example the organization of a time dedicated to recoveryafter delivering difficult comments. “Alternatively, if taking a break is unrealistic, managers can focus on tasks that require less energy and attention, as these are tasks where their performance is less likely to deteriorate immediately after taking a break.note the authors of the study.
Another track is a little more strategic to reduce the impact: provided immediately after the delivery of difficult comments a task that is considered pleasantsuch as networking, volunteering or a passionate project within the organization. “It can help replenish the energy reserves of empathetic leaders so they are better equipped to face the rest of their workday. »
Don’t fall into the trap of the vicious circle
But the advice doesn’t just stop with the most empathetic leaders. Because if the least empathetic people don’t say they are influenced by criticism, the study authors warn: “Organizations can find themselves in a vicious circle, where those who are most enthusiastic about giving negative feedback are the worst on average. »
There, no secret: training and awareness are essential to indicate to this one “Low Empathy Leaders” How? ‘Or what? “be helpful and compassionate when giving feedback”.
In general, the study authors believe that several skills should be developed when criticizing an employee:
- Create a healthy and development-oriented environment for employees.
- Be mindful of your own emotions and don’t give feedback if you’re upset yourself.
- Respect your employees and give them time to prepare to receive difficult feedback, by telling them the date of a meeting and the agenda and/or asking their permission to hold the meeting together.
- Remember and remind its employees that the purpose of a feedback is to help the recipient grow.
- Focus on solutions and focus on specific behaviors that need improvement, rather than blaming the employee or attacking their personality.
- Invite the recipient to participate in the troubleshooting process.
- Follow up and then recognize positive developments.
All these leads will benefit from this “not just for the well-being and performance of empathetic leaders”but they will help “Leaders who are better equipped to provide useful feedback also feel more comfortable giving it – to the benefit of leaders, their employees and the organization as a whole”.
A win-win that would be stupid to miss.
 The authors of the study are Ravi S. Gajendran, Emily S. Corwin, Lauren S. Simon, Christopher C. Rosen, and Sibel Ozgen. It was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.