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Your team members are chasing lots of goals. Some are big long-term goals you helped them develop. Many others are short-term and mid-term personal goals they set and hope to attain. Sometimes they'll reach their goals and sometimes they won't. Sometimes you'll be the reason they did or did not reach a goal. And sometimes, you'll have nothing to do with it. In any case, as the boss, it's often your job to deliver the news effectively. Many instances come to mind. Probably the most common are raises and promotions.
There are lots of hopes and aspirations surrounding these decisions, but the reality is that everyone can't get what they want. The same goes for all of the awards given out within departments or business units. I'm specifically thinking about awards for some aspect of performance. It's normal to see many people nominated, but only a few who receive the award. Or think about projects, many projects come and go at work and some are more popular than others. That means sometimes people want to join the project team, but they're not asked to. Maybe you have an employee who wants to manage the new account the company just landed, but you think someone else is a better fit.
Maybe you have an employee who really wants to participate in a prestigious training opportunity. But you only have so many spots you can fill based on your budget. In all of these cases whether the employee wins or loses, your job is to make the experience as productive as possible. It's a little easier when the employee receives the news they wanted, but you still need to be thoughtful. When they do win remember these pointers. First, feel free to congratulate them publicly if it's appropriate. But always be cautious not to create unnecessary jealousy.
If they won an award, share it with the team. If they received a huge bonus, that's clearly an issue for private discussion. Also, don't be afraid to remind folks who reach these goals that you have expectations of them. If they win the award, you expect them to live up to those standards. If they get the project slot you expect to see great performance. In the case of delivering negative outcome feedback, it's a little more complicated because of the emotions involved and due to the social nature of working on a team.
People can be very sensitive about how much others know about their fortunes at work. To deliver negative outcome feedback, I want you to remember these tips. First, difficult feedback should always be delivered in private to help the person save face. Next, if there's a legitimate, positive frame to be used, use it. For example, if they were nominated for an award, but did not receive it, you might remind them that only ten people were nominated out of nearly 1,000 employees. So the nomination is actually pretty special in and of itself.
Follow this with an explanation if one is available. If, for example, you didn't choose them for a coveted spot on a new project team, tell them why. If they were a good fit, but someone else was a better fit, they deserve to hear that explanation. Next is the path forward. What can they do to be better positioned next quarter or year To achieve the promotion, the award, or whatever they were chasing. If there's a new skill, or an objective type of accomplishment at work that will help them, discuss it. Finally, end with an appropriate affirmation.
Tell them you appreciate their striving, and even though you can't win them all, their efforts are clearly going to help them reach plenty of new goals in the future. We all win some and lose some. It's pretty easy to hear about winning, but more difficult to find out you came up short. However, if you remember the tips we just discussed. Over time, your team will recognize these instances of not winning as a natural part of work life. And the better you become at delivering this type of feedback, the sooner setbacks stop feeling like a stigma and start feeling like useful feedback.
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