What would you do to handle employees who get defensive when you criticise or give feedbacks to them? As a manager, you might feel your head spinning when dealing with such kind of employee. Instead of accepting the feedbacks gracefully and talk about how they can improve their performance, this kind of people typically get upset and say that everything is not their faults.
It might be the hardest moment for you to share your criticisms to a defensive employee, even when it is a constructive one. A defensive people tends to seek any reasons, excuses, or alibi to refute their mistakes as they believe that they are always right. Sometimes they even blame and scapegoat others when something is not working out as expected. Another sign of defensive employee is that he holds a grudge and grumble behind your back after receiving the feedbacks.
Meanwhile, every manager realizes that giving feedbacks is crucial to assess an employee’s performance and motivate him to work better. However, delivering feedbacks for a defensive employee can give you a hard time unless you implement the right strategy. When dealing with this type of person, you should keep in mind that all you need to do is to make the feedback work effectively and not to win the argument. Check the following tips on how to provide effective feedbacks for a defensive employee:
See also: The Act of Being Tact: What to Do to Candidates You Don’t Hire
Make it a discussion
No one fancy the idea of going in a meeting with a manager and getting all the blame and being intimidated because of our list of mistakes at work. Providing feedbacks to a defensive employee should be more like a friendly discussion where the manager should let the employee to share his opinions regarding the issue on hand. By asking something like “What do you think about…” instead of “Now you have to…”, this will leave a good impression that you genuinely want him to improve by himself instead of just pestering them to follow your command.
Show genuine appreciation
There might be a lot of things that you want to criticise regarding an employee’s performance or work quality. However, you do not have to let everything out all at once. Instead, you should try to provide a balanced feedback. You can appreciate things he has done for the company, even when it is only a small thing. This strategy will help you show that you supervise every detail comprehensively and not just focus on the mistakes.
Choose your words
From the very beginning, you can create a positive atmosphere where the employee will have no urgency to defend himself. You can do this by carefully picking the words you will use to share your thoughts with him. For example, saying something such as “I’m sorry we have to discuss about this” will really mould the atmosphere of the discussion onwards. You can also set the tone of your voice to make the employee calm down along the discussion.
Emphasise your intention to help
Here you should focus on how to solve the problem instead of merely presenting the errors. You can tell the employee about the problem followed with possible solution, where the employee’s improvement is highly required to achieve that. Tell him that all you want to do is helping him to become a better individual. You can also ask him what you can help if it seems that he is about to defend himself again.
Show that you care about them
You can show that you care and understand his position to prevent him from feeling intimidated or impugned. By saying “I know you are tired of this, this task is heavy” or similar statements will make the employee less defensive as he feels that the manager understand his struggle at work.
Don’t criticise the defensiveness
It is duly noted that criticising an employee’s defensive acts will only waste time and energy of both of you. When you mention that he is so defensive, all he will do is just making a new excuse to counter your argument and so on.
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