How to Turn Negative Employee Feedback Into a Positive Opportunity

Want help with your hiring? It's easy. Enter your information below, and we'll quickly reach out to discuss your hiring needs.

teaIf your organization has implemented 360-degree feedback, you’re likely seeing effects like better communication, stronger team development, and more. While 360-degree feedback does produce many benefits, it is not without its challenges.

For example, it can be hard to hear negative feedback from your employees regarding your performance as a manager or leader. However, negative feedback does not have to be a bad thing. In fact, you can turn it into a positive opportunity by following these steps:

1. Control Your Emotions

It is normal to feel some sort of negative emotion when receiving criticism from an employee, but it’s important to remember that this is not an attack on your character. As when you deliver critical feedback to an employee, your employee only wants to make the workplace better.

Furthermore, this type of open communication is critical to team success. In one survey, 33 percent of HR managers said the “lack of open, honest communication” is the factor that has the most negative impact on employee morale. Avoid defensiveness as a default response to criticism. Instead, step back and try to see the situation from the employee or colleague’s perspective.

2. Assume Good Intentions

As you attempt to understand the feedback from the employee’s perspective, don’t jump to conclusions about their intentions. Instead of assuming an employee is out to get you, assume they merely want to see you succeed further.

Creating open workplace communication means receiving negative feedback. No one is perfect. Keep in mind that 92 percent of your employees see negative feedback as an effective way to improve performance, according to one study.

Accept negative feedback for what it is: Your employee’s attempt to help you become an even better leader.

3. Own Your Mistakes

Everyone has a tendency to deflect when it comes to criticism. Assuming responsibility, however, is part of what it means to be a leader. Let your employee know you’ve heard their concerns and understand where they’re coming from. It will help develop a stronger connection with your employees, making people feel more comfortable when approaching you with concerns in the future.

4. Clarify Expectations

Feedback meetings are supposed to be mutually beneficial conversations that will improve performance, set goals, and explore options for improving employee satisfaction. If your team feels like their feedback is being heard and addressed, they’ll likely be happier to work with you as a manager. Use negative feedback to make improvements accordingly.

5. Use It to Better Yourself as a Leader

Use this opportunity to think about how you can improve your overall behavior and attitude as a leader in the organization. If one employee has these concerns, it’s likely others do, too. Commit to being conscious of your leadership style moving forward. Think about how you can improve as a leader overall — not just in response to the specific feedback you received. Consider all feedback as a stepping stone to realizing greater success in your career.

A version of this article originally appeared on the iRevü blog.

Michael Heller is the CEO and founder of iRevü.

Read more in Employee Survey

Michael Heller has 20+ years of experience in strategic human resources, talent management, and technology consulting. As an HR executive at Washington Consulting, Digital Management, and Deltek, Michael led teams to develop innovative human capital management programs and initiatives. Previously, Michael held a variety of positions at American Management Systems and Booz Allen Hamilton where he executed on talent acquisition, total rewards, performance management, strategic HR partnerships, and philanthropy strategies. Michael serves the community as a board member of Teardrops to Rainbows, an organization dedicated to supporting the families of children with cancer. Michael has a master's degree in human resources from Georgetown University and earned his bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Connecticut. Michael resides in Gaithersburg, Maryland, with his wife and daughter. He enjoys cooking and college basketball.