Honest communication and political correctness ...
It seems that the business world, especially enterprise companies, has been taken over by excessive political correctness which doesn’t leave space for honest communication and review. These, however, would be key to perform better. Let’s see what you, as a leader, can do to be both politically correct and honest.
Political correctness as part of management styles
Communicating in a fair, non-discriminating way is the absolute bare minimum and should be part of every leader’s management skills. Being conscious of gender equality, inclusivity, and equal rights is a top priority for today’s best organizations. The Black Lives Matter movement is empowering previously underrepresented people to speak up for their rights. At the same time, companies standing behind them try their best to shift focus on these crucial topics.
In my experience, there are leaders, who instead hide behind these otherwise positive initiatives to avoid facing the truth, when it comes to giving feedback. To them, on the surface, everything is perfect; everything is shiny. I have seen multiple managers, who communicated that they are satisfied with the employee’s skills and performance but still did not let them get the long-waited promotion.
Giving honest feedback
The best leaders have an internal need for being honest. It does not go against political correctness to articulate poor performance, which, by the way, goes against both the company’s, the team’s, the leader’s and the employee’s best interests.
Don’t be afraid of giving an honest review of work! The key to getting the message through is to communicate clearly and in a powerful way. Praise your team members if they succeeded because the right balance is essential. Even if you share ‘the bad news’ acceptably, it will lose its weight if not balanced well with a fair amount of positive feedback.
The best ways to give honest feedback
Although an audience grants weight to all you, as the manager, say, I would instead suggest giving feedback during a one-to-one session. Let your team members decide what to share with others if he or she even wants to talk about it. The number one rule is to avoid public humiliation.
Honest feedback doesn’t equal saying only negative things about the other. Start by articulating all the relevant positive points, like the strengths or achievements, following by the constructive feedback on faults if there are any, finishing off with some positive points again (Yes, the famous ‘sandwich’ tactic!).
Don’t be shy about the adverse events. You wouldn’t believe how many managers are there who are afraid to provide criticism.
If you have something negative to say, be constructive. Tell the other that their work is not good enough. Without outlining the underlying reasons, it will be taken as a rude, offensive comment.
Put on your coaching hat and try to figure out with your subordinate what has led to this negative outcome. It would help if you emphasized that your organization is an acceptable and supportive one, from which mistakes are opportunities to learn.
If the cause is rooted deeper, create a plan to cover all aspects of things to do that aim to avoid the mistake to happen again.
Excellent and useful feedback is rare, so even though you might feel this to be difficult, it strengthens loyalty and will empower your image in the long run.