I just attended feedback training conducted by our HR department.  For the most part it was pretty good and followed a lot of MT guidance.  There was one section that piqued my interest because it was different but I’d love your take on it.

HR's suggestion was to 'soften' constructive feedback.   So instead of saying 'When you are late with the report, here's what happens...' they recommend saying 'When the report is late, here's what happens...'

What do my esteemed MT aficionados think of this approach?

Thanks for your thoughts





mrreliable's picture

My first thought was the use of active vs. passive verbs. "When you are late..." is active (somebody doing something). "When the report is late..." is passive. The general rule is to avoid passive tense, except when there's a reason to use it. This might be a good reason.

You've already identified the direct's behavior that needs to be changed. Saying, "When the report is late," explains why it's bad without being focused on the direct, and is more likely to be taken with a positive attitude. If you say, "When you are late with the report," there's an element of admonishing the direct and there's a better chance of the direct becoming defensive.

Subtle, but I like the passive approach in this situation.

mainer's picture

I agree with the previous comment. I think the passive voice may put the other party more at ease. It could also show that the interviewer understands the nature of the job and the nature of the mistake.

On the other hand, if an employee keeps committing the same mistake(s) even after several feedback sessions, one has no choice but to use the active voice.