Project LeadershipProject Management

How to Provide Feedback to Underperformers When They Cry?

Managers must provide underperformers feedback. Unfortunately, you must have repeat sessions to help the message sink in. It is unnerving to get feedback for the same mistakes. Some break down and cry. How do you deal with them? Karin Hurt and David Dye share 4 tips to help provide feedback to underperformers when they cry.

4 Golden Rules of Underperformance Feedback

The leadership consultants have come up with the I.N.S.P.I.R.E model to help managers have that tough feedback session with underperformers. The reason they are crying is because they could not meet the expectation even after giving their best. However, if they cry or throw angry feats every time you provide an observation, that is their defense mechanism speaking. The natural reaction to avoid the melodrama is to lessen the number of your feedback sessions. The result is, they will do this more often to avoid confrontation. Following are the 4 tips to provide feedback to repeat offenders when they cry:

  1. Have that Tissue Ready: You are fuming inside and yet you have calmed yourself down to have a conversation. You somehow disclose your thoughts while hiding those gritted teeth. And then the tears start rolling. You can keep talking or stop the session entirely. It does not help either of you. It is true that they are not in a state to receive your feedback, so give them a minute to calm down. If they cannot control their emotions, suggest having the session later in the day. They will know that tearing up will not save them from your feedback. Genuine hires will feel blessed to have an empathetic leader and the other half will soon fall back in line.
  2. Utilize the I.N.S.P.I.R.E Model: It stands for the initiate, notice, support, probe, invite, review, and enforce phases. When they become emotional, initiate to empathize by saying how you genuinely care about their career growth. Inform them that you have noticed them crying only when review sessions begin. To support your claim, remind of your previous meetings. Probe a bit deeper to understand what makes them react this way. Invite them to come up with ideas as to how to make these feedback sessions more productive. Review it and consent to following their ideas. Enforce to have the session soon to put those ideas into action.
  3. Do Not Be Overwhelmed: As you are the leader here, do not react thoughtlessly. If you want them to become responsible for their actions, stay ‘calm, neutral, and curious.’ Do not let their words affect you personally.
  4. Have They Heard You Right? When they are in an emotional mess, they might have not heard you right. Let them relax before asking them to recount what you have said. By the end of the feedback session, they must know their task list. Set up another session to check their progress.

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Indrani Roy

Indrani Roy is currently working as a Content Specialist for CAI Info India. She has knowledge in writing blogs, product descriptions, brand information, and coming up with new marketing concepts. Indrani has also transcribed, subtitled, edited, and proofread various Hollywood movies, TV series, documentaries, etc., and performed audio fidelity checks. She started her career by articulating a knowledge base for an IT client, and, eventually, went on to create user manuals and generate content for a software dashboard. Writing being one of her passions, reading books is naturally her favorite pastime. When not lost in the world of letters, she is a foodie, movie buff, and a theater critic.

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