I received a great question last night that I missed answering on our live Q&A call so I wanted to address it on the blog this morning instead. I decided to give you an excerpt of my book, The Professional Woman’s Guide to Managing Men, for the answer.
Dear Classy Career Girl: Have you ever had to discipline or correct an employee? How do you approach this in a professional manner – and do you notice a difference when the employee is male?
It can be intimidating for a woman to provide feedback to a man. Men may not be as quick to solicit feedback from a woman and they definitely don’t enjoy being criticized, especially by a woman. This can make giving feedback to a man a little tricky. Men are also less likely to ask for validation and positive reinforcement than women. I spoke with a man who rarely asks for feedback from his manager. He said:
“I rarely ask for feedback because I always assume I am doing it right unless feedback is given to me. I also don’t usually want to hear the feedback if I am doing it wrong, which is why I sometimes avoid asking for it.”
Because of men’s confidence in themselves, constructive feedback should be an ongoing process, not a once a year event. You need to make sure that you are vocal about what you expect so that your male employees can meet or exceed your expectations.
Next time you need to give feedback to anyone on your team, use this 7-step model:
1. Prepare in advance. Make sure you have thought of an example and action step that you can provide him or her with.
2. Ask the person if he or she has a minute for you to provide some quick feedback. They will be less likely to get defensive if you ask for permission ahead of time.
3. State specific examples that you observed without being judgmental. For example, “I noticed the report you submitted to our client had some grammar mistakes.”
4. Explain why this impacts you or your team’s performance. Be as specific as you can and include measurable impacts as evidence if possible. For example, “One of the errors I found was that the word “their” was incorrectly spelled. This poorly reflects the professionalism that our company desires.”
5. Pause and ask for their thoughts on what you said and what they can do to fix it.
6. Suggest action steps. For example, “Next time, I would recommend having someone else on the team review the work before you submit it to the client, or use the spellcheck function.”
7. Pause and ask for their thoughts about the action steps. Make sure you both agree on how you will proceed. Document the action steps in an email so you are both on the same page.
Be respectful by never providing feedback in a group setting. When giving this feedback to women, the only addition you would wan to make would be including more small talk in the beginning. You don’t have to get the main point as quick as you would with a man.
Have you given feedback before? Tell us how it went!
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