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How to Give Your Employee Feedback Without Sounding Like a Jerk

We joined forces with Gusto to build a practical feedback guide for small businesses. Read the rest of the series here and learn how to give non-jerky feedback to your coworker, boss, and client.

It can be hard not to come across as a total softie—or a total jerk—when giving your employees feedback.

Take it from Amanda Goldberg, CEO and founder of Oakland-based Planted Design, a twelve-person team that creates vertical living & preserved moss gardens. “My natural disposition is excited,” Goldberg says. “I love new ideas and my up-front excitement sounds a lot like an automatic ‘YES.’”

But having an immediate reaction isn't always helpful. Goldberg realized that a full-on "yes" isn't what she means 100% of the time. After a few premature affirmations of her team’s plant arrangements, she pumped the breaks on the automatic excitement, realizing that decisions that are best for the company often require more thought.

Why you need to give the right kind of feedback.

While real-time feedback can be useful, sometimes it helps to pause and noodle on the situation so you can get your thoughts in order. That way, you can be sure the feedback you give isn’t mean—and is exactly what you mean.  

Giving an employee the wrong impression can be damaging to both your business and to their career because it’ll allow even the smallest bad patterns and habits to flourish. Remember, your job is to tell your team the truth.

Goldberg found that not reacting right away and crafting a thought-out (and more accurate) response has helped her employees produce better work that’s more in line with her vision.

To read the rest of this article, head over to Gusto's blog.