Contrary to common misconception, giving feedback—insightful, useful feedback—is surprisingly difficult. Why? Because, as legendary venture capitalist Ben Horowitz once observed, it’s completely, utterly unnatural.
“If your buddy tells you a funny story, it would feel quite weird to evaluate her performance. It would be totally unnatural to say: ‘Gee, I thought that story really sucked. It had potential, but you were underwhelming on the build up then you totally flubbed the punch line. I suggest that you go back, rework it and present it to me again tomorrow.’ Doing so would be quite bizarre, but evaluating people’s performances and constantly giving feedback is precisely what a CEO must do.”
Sometimes it’s tempting to feed our employees a shit sandwich—more on this momentarily—and give vital feedback in other completely awful ways, but it’s crucial to your career as a manager that you resist the urge to do so. As a cautionary tale, here are three uniquely terrible ways that inexperienced managers often give feedback and how you can avoid doing this yourself.