The word “feedback” very often gets defences up and vibrating. Here are some approaches you might want to try for getting past those defences.
1. Ask first
Why ask? Because then the target of your feedback has some control. Even if they don’t feel they can say no, saying yes to feedback helps lower the defences.
A bit manipulative? Maybe, or you could think of it helping them feel comfortable with what they’re about to hear.
You’re not the kind of boss who asks permission to do your job? Maybe, or you could think of it as being more effective. Defensive people aren’t listening and communication is about the listener does. Don’t worry, the big flashing red “boss” sign over your head never goes away no matter how nice you are.
2. Pleasantly Surprise Them
If you’re already giving positive feedback, good for you. If you’re not, what are you waiting for? There will come a day when you’ll need to give somebody corrective feedback. After all the positive feedback you’re giving they’ll be ready for it and they’ll hear it. In the meantime, keep feeding the monkeys.
3. Don’t push . . .
You’ve asked if you can give your employee feedback, and she says no. Now is not the time to push. You’ve given them a shot over the bow already, and they probably know what it is they’ve screwed up. They need time to collect themselves, or to fix the problem, or something else is on their mind which is why they’re having an off day. In any case, they’re not in a receptive mood. They’re not going to hear you anyway.
Either they’ll change their behaviour without having the conversation (you win, and they get to keep their dignity so you win), or they’ll come back later when they’ve collected themselves and are ready to listen (you win), or they won’t. If they don’t then . . .
4. . . . Until There’s a Pattern
. . . ask to give them feedback again. Do this two or three times until it becomes obvious they are closed to improving or working better with others. In that case it’s time for systemic feedback. Feedback about them not accepting what you, the boss, has to say about their performance. This is a bigger issue, and now they don’t get a choice.
Ask to give positive feedback to somebody working for you in your organization every day this week.
Outstanding bosses give feedback continuously, many times a day. If you’re not used to this, and especially if your staff is not used receiving feedback from you, once a day is a good start. Walk before you run.