Elva Ainsworth, CEO of Talent Innovations, offers some advice on how to feed back to a team member who isn't meeting your expectations. 

17th June 2019

Is one of the team letting the side down? Even when things are running smoothly, there may be someone who is not quite up to scratch. And there is no easy way to tell them there’s a problem or what they need to do to improve. Often we are too polite to spell it out or, worse, we make allowances for poor performance and the rest of the team plugs the gap.

There are two golden rules when it comes to giving feedback to colleagues, says Elva Ainsworth, 360-degree feedback expert and author of Reboot Your Reputation: 11 Ways To Change Their Minds

“The first,” she says, “is to make sure that you have permission to contribute in this way. The second is to refer to observations of what they have or haven’t done, rather than focus on your opinion or judgement of them. 

“Consider carefully and speak clearly, with specific examples, to the right person at the right time and you will be most likely to make a useful positive difference.”

Elva Ainsworth's 5 golden rules for giving feedback

1 Act as soon as possible after it occurs to you. If too much time has passed, it’s best to just log it to add to a future conversation or review, or let it go completely.  

2  Manage your emotions. Feedback will land more constructively if you deliver it in a straightforward manner, so make sure your frustrations do not show through.

3  Raise concerns appropriately. Consider who is in a position to resolve the issue and speak with this person in the right way. Avoid public humiliation.

4  Share your own experience. Focus your feedback on its impact on you, others and the work of the team, as well as on them.

5  Avoid gossip. It can be easy to sound off with other colleagues, but this undermines both you and the individual concerned and tends not to resolve the issue usefully. 

Elva Ainsworth is founder and CEO of Talent Innovations, which uses online tools and psychological expertise to help organisations develop their people. Elva has more than 20 years’ experience of delivering 360-degree training and consultation for global clients. talentinnovations.com. 

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