Harsh But Fair?

Harsh But Fair?

With this skill, you will be able to positively affect your team’s performance and also their morale.  You will be able to speed up their development in their role or encourage them towards the next role.  Your company, turnover, and profits will all grow, and you will be able to sleep at night knowing that your company functions well, you have competent people and you don’t need to be there every second of the day 

Without this, you are likely to be pulling your hair out about your teams seeming inability to do anything without you.  Your team may think you are “too nice” or equally they might think you are a bit of a tyrant.  Mostly they won’t know what to think or expect from you, and people might be walking around on eggshells. They certainly won’t be growing and developing into their best versions of themselves.  And your company won’t be achieving all that it could. 

What am I talking about? 

I am talking about feedback. 

Feedback is the breakfast of champions, so the saying goes.  But it isn’t always easy to give, is it?

I mean, it is fine when everything is going well.  You have learned how to be specific in your feedback and NOT say things like, “Good job Jeff”, but to instead say, “I really liked the way you handled that customer query.  You made the customer feel important and he will come here again.  Keep doing that!”.

And, as I said, that’s great when you have good feedback to give.

But what happens when you need to tell someone something that they may not want to hear? 

What happens when they haven’t done a particularly good job, and it’s up to you to deliver the bad news?

What I often see, if managers and business leaders who ‘don’t want to upset the apple cart’ or would rather ‘let sleeping dogs lie’.  They hope that if they don’t ‘make a big thing of it’, whatever “it” is will just go away.  It was a one-off wasn’t it? 

Maybe they are a bit overwhelmed with work, and ‘can’t find the time’.  Perhaps they don’t think it is that big a deal, it will only take them ‘5 minutes to put it right anyway’. 

Here’s the thing.  That never works.  What generally happens is you get so sick of the poor performance (that is a secret, because you have never mentioned anything about it), that your elastic eventually snaps and you start shouting the odds.  The person you are shouting at (rightly) feels offended and confused, and probably upset.  I mean, they had NO IDEA that you felt that way – because you have ‘put up with it’ and never said a word. 

And it really isn’t helpful. 

How can anyone who works for you, learn how to be the best version of themselves if you never tell them what they could be doing better?  If you allow poor performance to go unchecked you are being unfair.  You are being unfair to the person who has made the mistake, or underperformed.  You are being unfair to the rest of their team, as people aren’t stupid.  They know what’s what, and may wonder why you are allowing this to go on. 

And you are definitely being unfair to yourself and to the company.  Poor performance that is allowed to continue sets a precedent, and you will find your team may lower their standards to the level of the underperformer.  Which means YOU have more stress, more sleepless nights and are working much longer and harder than anyone else.  Does that sound good to you? 

No?  Well alright then. 

So, what should you do instead?

Well, the other day I was online in my coaching group.  One of the women in their asked for feedback about something she had created.  And before I had a chance to respond, one of the other group members gave her the asked for feedback.  And it was HARSH.  But it was fair.  Now it made me suck my teeth in when I read it, because it was raw and gave no quarter.  I might have delivered it with a little more love. 

However, it was absolutely spot on and exactly what that person needed to know. 

I was proud of her for being brave enough to ask for feedback and I was in admiration of the boldness of the responder.  There will not be days or weeks of wasted effort, the feedback will be put into practice and serve its purpose of moving that person on in a positive way.  She was grateful for the honesty, and that honesty allowed other members of the group to also be honest (if a little less harsh!). 

It is not an easy skill to develop for most people and if you feel like you could do with some help on your feedback skills then drop me a line to  and let’s talk!  I am happy to give you my feedback – anytime !!

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