Delivering effective feedback might be one of the most challenging aspects of leading a team of employees. Some leaders might be uncomfortable with confrontation, while others might not think twice about how their words impact an employee’s feelings or their team’s morale. 

Good leadership requires self-awareness. It’s important to consider whether your style of delivering feedback might amount to public shaming from an employee’s point of view. Fortunately, improving how you give feedback is a simple process.

Delivering feedback effectively strengthens teams, saves money, and creates a smoother, more cohesive work environment for everyone on your staff. 

How You Give Feedback Matters 

When you’ve been a leader for a long time, it’s easy to become fed up with mistakes, oversights, or the perceived laziness of the people who work for you. Unfortunately, failing to filter anger or frustration does far more harm than good in the workplace. 

Openly criticizing, yelling at, or embarrassing an employee is never a constructive leadership technique. When it happens in front of other employees, it can be considered an instance of public shaming. As the name implies, the concept of “public shaming” simply refers to making one employee feel ashamed in front of their co-workers. 

Harming Morale

In a healthy team, employees value and respect the opinions of one another. Shaming an employee in public unavoidably leads to feelings of resentment and ill will. Much of the time, other employees take their cue from the leader. When you shame one employee, everyone else thinks less of them.  

This harms the cohesion of your workplace and may even eventually lead to talent loss if things get bad enough. 

Turning Your Team Against You

Another common outcome of publicly shaming an employee is for the rest of your employees to silently sympathize with the one receiving your feedback. This often leads to an environment in which your team begins to regard you in a negative light. 

Workers who avoid or speak poorly of their employer can quickly create a toxic work environment. No leader wants to deal with that sort of management situation.

Fortunately, public shaming is easy to avoid. Perhaps more importantly, putting some thought into how you deliver feedback can quickly lead to the results you’re looking for while creating a more positive and productive work environment

Tips for Avoiding Publicly Shaming Your Workers

There’s no one right way to deliver feedback to an employee when they aren’t meeting your expectations. However, these tips can help guide your approach. 

Wait Until You’re Calm

Anger, frustration, and other strong emotions make it hard to think and speak clearly. When you have a strong emotional reaction to something an employee has done, it’s best to walk away and calm down. Then, schedule a time in the near future when you can have a calm and strategic discussion. 

Choose the Right Time and Place

To make the most of your conversation, choose the right time and place. Feedback that involves explaining to an employee how their performance isn’t meeting your standards is best held in a private location, like your office. 

As a leader, it’s important to consider that an employee may feel embarrassed about having their coworkers overhear the conversation.  

Separate the Person from the Problem

Effective feedback separates the person from the problem. Ideally, an employee receiving feedback should leave the discussion without feeling like their value as a staff member has been questioned. 

If there are serious, persistent problems with an employee, then it might be time to consider letting them go from your staff. However, if they’re a good worker and you want them to stick around, it helps to ensure they know that. 

Clearly Outline the Issue

When you’re in a position of needing to deliver feedback, it usually means there’s a problem. That might be behavioral, like an employee who frequently shows up late. However, much of the time, the problem is more related to the quality of their work.

It helps to take the time in advance to outline how you’ll present the issue and how you’ll explain exactly what the problem is. This removes emotion on both sides and ensures your employee clearly understands what needs to improve.

Deliver Clear Steps for Improvement

Finally, the point of feedback is usually to communicate about a change you want to see. Providing clear examples, suggestions, or instructions for how your staff member can improve ensures that the conversation is productive. When your employee understands exactly what you want to be done and how to do it, they’re much more likely to meet your expectations in the future. 

Mastering the Art of Feedback Is an Asset

Learning to deliver effective feedback is an essential skill that every leader should strive to develop. Offering thoughtful, strategic feedback that considers your employees’ feelings reduces resentment and negativity in the workplace. It also allows you to cut directly to the heart of the problem. 

Most leaders who take the time to reflect on their feedback style and make improvements see instant results. Removing emotion and considering an employee’s feelings allows the discussion to focus directly on the issue and what needs to change. 

Positive conversations make employees feel valued and respected. This increases their respect for you and their dedication to your company. In the long term, employee retention saves you money and stress. Remember, employees who feel shamed grow unhappy and leave. Employees who feel respected develop loyalty and motivation.  

Leading a team is no small task. However, it makes your job — and your life — easier when you stop to remember that a little feedback can go a long way, both for better and for worse.

Getting Help When Feedback Isn’t Enough

Effective feedback is an essential skill for every leader. However, when you’re short-staffed or your employees lack training and experience, effective feedback can only take you so far. 

Woven Legal is a staffing agency that works exclusively with law firms. We pair attorneys with legal assistants, IOLTA bookkeepers, client intake specialists, and other professionals with skills and experience in the legal field. 

When positive feedback isn’t enough to take your firm’s work quality where it needs to go, Woven Legal is here to help. We offer month-to-month contracts and are available to discuss how we can help with your law firm’s business needs. Book a discovery call today.


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