As a manager, you’ve likely delivered a “feedback sandwich”: two pieces of positive reinforcement wrapped around a thick slice of criticism. While this approach may feel like you’re softening the blow, it rarely achieves the goal of helping someone improve.
Instead, start by describing the behavior you want to correct. For example, rather than saying, “You were really rude in that meeting,” you could say something like, “I noticed you interrupted the client twice in that meeting.” Then explain the impact of the behavior so the employee knows what’s at stake. Avoid self-serving statements like “You made me look bad in there,” and focus instead on them: “You missed an opportunity to learn more about your client.”
Finally lay out what you would like them to do instead. Be specific: “Next time, if a thought comes up while the client is speaking, jot it down and wait until they finish before jumping in.” This kind of feedback is respectful, clear, and actionable, and will boost your chances of actually pushing your employee to learn and grow.