How to Handle Negative (Employee) Feedback as a Leader
18 min read
Bitrix24 Team
August 17, 2022
Last updated: April 5, 2023
How to Handle Negative (Employee) Feedback as a Leader

Table of Content

Employee feedback is crucial to both the technical growth of the labor pool and the continuing progression of the business. That being said, receiving comments at work has its drawbacks. Even though people all enjoy favorable comments, it can be difficult to accept criticisms politely. While a leader may rarely want to hear such deficiencies, constructive feedback is an essential component of training and development and is useful for enhancing efficient leadership.

Negative comments, however, can be difficult to understand and respond to. It may cause us to become argumentative, furious, or self-conscious, which reduces our efficacy. The problem with unfavorable criticism is that it would be painful. It is irreversible to receive this kind of feedback. Rather than trying to make up for your emotional pain, here are some appropriate responses on how to handle negative employee feedback.


What is negative employee feedback?

Negative employee feedback is an assessment of the top management made by an employee to identify practices that should be altered to avoid problems or poor efficiency. Negative feedback is to influence their conduct to improve performance and work productivity.

How do you respond to negative employee feedback?

To respond to negative employee feedback:
  • Take a deep breath and be calm.
  • Comprehend feedback and obtain as much information as possible.
  • Take nothing personally.
  • Thank the employee for their comments and show appreciation.
  • Sincerely apologize if necessary.
  • Accept feedback with an open mind.

How do you make negative feedback positive?

To make negative feedback positive, it should be reframed in our professional attitudes as educational, a launching point towards a higher degree of continuous improvement. Once negative feedback and critique are handled and given appropriately, there are far more advantages than disadvantages.

What is a negative feedback loop?

A negative feedback loop is a procedure in which a business hears client grievances or concerns and utilizes that feedback to enhance its goods or client support. It’s regarded as a loop since a circle is formed when the criticism (output) is leveraged as helpful input for redesigning their offering.

What are the benefits of a negative feedback loop?

A negative feedback loop is beneficial for both businesses and customers. Customers who know they are cherished and appreciated by a company are much more inclined to keep with the brand over time, and the layout of the company is modified to boost consumer happiness.

9 Tips on How to Handle Negative Feedback as a Leader

Negative employee feedback can let you build personally as a leader and is intended to assist your business to grow and flourish. It's enticing to say nothing or take big, general moves that completely overturn what you have currently done when faced with bad feedback. Negative criticism can be damaging, much more so if it comes as a total surprise. So let's explore some strategies for maintaining composure, considering comments, and nurturing trust as a leader.

1. Take a deep breath and be calm

Remaining composed is the first guideline for receiving unfavorable criticism. Moreover, there are zero benefits to losing your cool when a coworker intends to critique you; all you need to fulfill is to stop your colleagues from providing you with more criticism. However, it's not often simple to maintain composure and lower your stress levels when someone makes an unanticipated assessment of you, notably if the criticism strikes a chord.

No matter if you approve of the critique and how it was given, it is crucial to understand how to maintain composure. Incinerating in a colleague's face lacks actual leadership. The first thing you should do when someone comes up to you to give you feedback is to gather yourself, let your shoulders down, and take a few deep breaths. Doing this will undermine all your pressures and will allow you to grasp the situation more clearly.

2. Instead of reacting right away, actively listen

The most crucial step on how to handle negative feedback from your employees is to attentively listen before you speak. Before starting a productive discussion, take a few steps away and be certain you're giving the other person's words your complete attention. Understanding somebody else's viewpoint can be challenging, particularly if you disagree with something they have to say. If you spend the effort to look at the wider vision, you can better comprehend the situation and put the comments into the correct perspective.

It can be challenging to give anyone negative feedback, so it's crucial to wait until they've completed speaking up before responding. Prior to responding to unfavorable criticism, you must listen intently and participate in the discussion.

3. Take nothing personally

It may seem intuitive, but try not to allow negative criticisms to ruin your day by taking it personally is one way how to handle negative feedback. Consider asking yourself what the criticism entails. The criticisms may have something to do with the software the business utilizes or the ambiance brought on by a workplace fight than they would with you as a terrible individual or a poor leader.

For instance, if an employee complains that the CRM software suite your firm utilizes isn't helping the team, do not even take it personally just because you adopted the program and perhaps even inked the deal. Commitment to any device or provider cannot get in the way of your role as a leader, which is to enable your team to perform at its highest level. Maintain an unbiased attitude while you respond to employee comments, and look into alternatives if necessary.

4. Comprehend feedback and obtain as much information as possible

Receivers of negative feedback should make every effort to elicit as many specifics and information as feasible, just as criticism should always be. If you don't fully grasp criticism or feedback to start with, it's pretty hard to put it into consideration. Have a secondary, tertiary, and fourth perspective on the subject so you can develop an even more accurate understanding of what is problematic or if there is anything wrong at all, and also what changes should be accomplished.

Use corrective and preventative questions to demonstrate your interest in the issue and gain a deeper understanding without sounding condescending. You can determine which possibilities are most urgent predicated on that data and create adjustments. Employee surveys can be used for this, or you might research the idea of starting a teleconference and holding focus group talks to get input instantaneously.

The effectiveness of an employee feedback survey depends on the questions you include. Employee responses must only be backed up by facts, not by concocted ideas. Don't say, "Do you think your employer is executing a great effort at providing recognition?" for example. Alternatively, use a question that demands evidence, such as "State a time when your organization recognized an employee" or "Explain how the business values its workforce." Every inquiry should be accompanied by a follow-up question, such as "Do you have any instances to corroborate the assertion?" or "How could it be made better in the coming years? "This provides people a chance to express their ideas or recommendations and offer extremely helpful input you may use in the years ahead.

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5. Thank the employee for their comments and show appreciation

It may sound sappy to express gratitude for negative feedback, but if you genuinely mean it, this straightforward gesture can do wonders. Keep in mind that employee feedback has been demonstrated to increase leadership efficiency and enhance productivity and that both executives and subordinates and workers view leaders who seek for and courteously accept criticism as being more competent. Past workers who felt alienated will value your efforts to create apologies. In the same way, potential employers will value your positive outlook in the midst of harsh criticism and take account of your receptivity to feedback.

If your employees' opinions are going to be ignored, there is no point in asking them for feedback. After considering the unfavorable feedback you have gotten from your staff, allow your initiatives to demonstrate your interest in whatever they have to express and your belief that their opinions matter.

6. Be sympathetic to the person providing the feedback and apologize if necessary

It's challenging to get unfavorable feedback, but it can be just as challenging to give unfavorable remarks. Giving negative criticism may be exceedingly unpleasant for both sides, along with the corporate proprietor, as no one would prefer to be the one to deliver awful advice. It's critical to empathize with the individual giving you the unfavorable criticism and recognize that they are in a situation to support you rather than work against you.

It can be difficult to hear criticism or critical remarks from an employer or colleague, but it's vital to keep in mind that getting feedback has a lot more positive effects than negative ones. Obtaining criticism can assist you in meeting or even exceeding the standards your employer has set for you when it is done well. You can evolve professionally, develop new abilities, add weapons to your toolbox, and enhance professional connections inside your workplace by learning how to handle negative feedback.

7. As you take criticism, adopt a growth mindset

A growth mindset is an approach in life that takes the perspective that individuals can improve their skills, knowledge, and capabilities. People that have a growth mentality look for chances to discover new expertise, develop new skills, and improve their current abilities. When faced with a difficulty, someone who has a growth mindset sees it as a possibility to progress rather than as a possibility to fail.

A growth mentality is essential, particularly when it concerns accepting new ideas or acting on how to handle negative feedback. When you have a positive mindset, you see feedback as a reward since you understand that you can constantly get better and learn new things. Your capacity to prioritize expansion even if it requires sacrificing your pride and accepting new challenges shows that you are not constrained by pessimistic self-thoughts or your unwillingness to accept adjustment.

When contrasted to people who have a static mindset, those who have a positive approach are far more inclined to be accomplished since it puts you in control. Overcoming negative feedback and being the main force behind your productivity requires you to recognize your strength and capacity for everyday learning and improvement.

8. Develop a strategic plan

The concluding part on how to handle negative feedback is developing a strategy to resolve these issues and shortcomings after you have listened to your employees' complaints and acknowledged their suggestions for remedies to the issues impacting your organization. If several of your employees had complaints about it in their evaluation, for instance, you might opt to support more remote work. You would require to gradually but progressively implement more policies that permit your staff to work outside of the headquarters since it's not a change you can implement abruptly.

9. Ask for feedback instead of waiting for it

If you never received any unfavorable feedback, it is a loss on your part. Employees that don't even try to voice their concerns to you have lost interest in the company. Co-ownership is encouraged by an open atmosphere where criticism is welcomed and treated thoroughly. It's a smart option to establish technologies that allow for ongoing employee input, particularly when individuals work virtually. 

Finding methods to keep improving consistently seems to be the primary strategy to emphasize progress, and asking for feedback is a fantastic way to begin. Establish the practice of regularly checking in with the individuals in your organization. Ask the management, team leader, or employees for feedback if you're keen to get more specifics. You may acquire the input you require in small quantities by inspecting it regularly and posing precise inquiries. Through being assertive and implementing modest modifications constantly, you can stay above of the trend rather than allowing any possible difficulties to sprout.

Final Thoughts on How to Handle Negative Employee Feedback and Nurture Trust as a Leader

Although it may be a trying period, keep in mind that your ultimate aim is to enhance both you and your company. Make a quick summary of the beneficial insights you have discovered or are currently discovering as an outcome of the feedback, refer to it as needed, and handle negative feedback as a leader. In addition, do not be scared to look closely at your visceral outburst of criticism. Keep in mind to examine both your sentiments and your workflow as you consider why you thought it to be so thought-provoking.

You won't advance professionally or as a company without feedback. The ability to take criticism well may be the most important managerial trait you can master. For better feedback management for your team, sign up on Bitrix24 as we provide all necessary business and management tools in one platform!

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