This is often something many people struggle with.  How do I give bad feedback without upsetting someone? How do I tell someone their performance isn’t up to scratch? How do I tell someone they are doing a good job and sound sincere?

So here are our top tips.


So often we see employers store up a log of ‘issues’ against a team member.  These may only be tiny small issues, but over time they build up and up into a boiling pot over spewing with issues – like when your partner leaves the loo seat up, doesn’t pick their socks up and leaves crumbs on the side.  On their own, tiny, insignificant issues, but if not dealt with, resentment builds and you may blow your top over another tiny insignificant issue.

If an employee is doing something that isn’t right, or isn’t being done in the right way try and catch it in the moment and address it there and then.  Say something like ‘have you been shown how to answer the phone/write that report/use that spreadsheet?’ and then explain what hasn’t been done right and how it should be one.  Simples.


It can be so hard to be rational and calm about things when it’s your business.  I remember how calm I used to be when I worked for a.n.other corporate and had to give feedback to a team member – I was calm because deep down it didn’t matter.  When it is your business and your baby EVERYTHING matters.  Your heart and soul have been poured into your venture not to mention your life savings too! But try to remember not to load up feedback with all this pent up emotion.  

If you need to give some emotionally charged feedback firstly take a deep breath.  In fact take ten breaths, and write down what you need to say.  This takes out any spare of the moment haste and makes sure you focus on the facts.


Is your team member a driven, non detail, non emotional person? Or are they a caring sensitive type? Remember that not everyone is like you, and how you deliver the feedback is almost as important as what you are saying.  Adapt your style, tone and detail to the person you are dealing with.


As an adult, there is nothing worse than being treated like a child or like you are still at school. Yet being honest with people is something so many of us struggle with.  If someone has done something wrong, tell them.  If someone has made a mistake, tell them.  Find out why, explain how it should be done, offer help and then move on.

Equally if someone has done something amazing – tell them! Don’t wait for their appraisal or be weird and awkward about it.  Simply say ‘Julie, that report you did on Monday was great – thanks for that’.

Our simple staff 121 template will help you get the conversation started.