5 Effective Ways to Deal with Negative Feedback from Employees

Row of unhappy lego faces representing negative feedback. Image by Nik on Unsplash.

Receiving negative feedback is never a fun experience. It basically means someone isn’t all that keen on what you’re doing, or something you’ve done. And that can be really hard to hear, especially if you’ve put your all into trying to make a positive impact at work. We’re emotional creatures at the end of the day, so it’s easy for negative feedback to be seen as well, negative! 

Being in the business of employee engagement, we see negative feedback from employees day in, and day out. So we thought it’d be a good idea to put some tips together on how you can deal with that feedback. By the end of this, you might even see it as a positive thing.

5 effective ways to deal with negative feedback from employees

keep calm and take a step back 1
  1. Take a step back

One of the biggest problems we have when dealing with negative feedback from employees, is that we don’t think logically when we hear it. In fact, most of us succumb to our basic emotions and end up somewhere on a scale between a bit miffed, and bloody p***ed off.

Whilst that’s only human, it’s probably not best to approach business sensitive matters when you’re bloody p***sed off. So it’s essential to take a deep breath, and step back until you’ve had some time to think over what’s been said. 

Once you’ve collected your thoughts, you’re more likely to have a constructive conversation that will benefit everyone, as opposed to a slanging match that’ll only make matters worse. 

  1. Don’t take it personally

Now that’s much easier said than done, especially if the negative feedback is targeted at a personal aspect of your work, or at a flaw that makes you a little self-conscious. But by opening your business up to employee comments, you’ve got to accept that you’re inviting both the good and the bad in. 

It’s important to remember that these comments are rooted in a workplace environment, so there could be other factors at play. Take some time to think about the feedback and where it might be coming from. It might just be that they’ve left the note on a particularly bad day. 

Also, if the feedback is more personal, remind yourself that you don’t need to be liked at work – at least on a professional level. Your primary role is to provide an environment where your staff can be happy, can be motivated, and work to the best of their ability. If you’re doing that and they like you as well, bonus! But at the end of the day, it’s not your number one goal. 

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  1. Learn from it

For the most part, employees leave negative feedback not because they want to put a dampener on your day, but because they care about the company enough to try and make a change. 

Whilst you’ve got these notes coming in, you’re in a good position. You can listen to what your staff are saying and potentially do something about it. But it’s important that you do take these comments seriously. Leaving them to stagnate is a sure fire way to make the issues worse, and stop the notes coming in altogether.

If you stop getting negative comments, it’s one of two things. You’re a statistical anomaly with no unhappy staff and no bad days at the office. OR your less happy staff don’t care anymore. One of these is more likely than the other… 

  1. Show that your employees comments matter

It might be tempting to keep some of the less flattering comments to yourself, and that train of thought is fair enough on the surface. Why would you want to spread the fact that something you’ve done hasn’t been appreciated? 

But staff talk, and they probably have a good idea about the kind of feedback that you might be getting anyway. So keeping it under wraps won’t do you any favours. 

Sure, you might not want to read any harsh feedback verbatim, but sharing negative feedback from employees shows that their comments matter to you. It shows that you’re willing to deal with them in a trustworthy and open way. 

The more open you are with your staff, the more open they will be with you.

  1. Nobody is perfect

We’re all different. A perfect solution for one, will be the absolute worst for someone else. So no matter how much effort you’ve put into something, no matter how high the percentage approval rate is, someone probably won’t like it. 

It sucks, but that’s just how it is. That’s how people work, and you will get negative feedback at some point. Nobody is perfect.

So it’s best to accept that it will come, do what you can to address the points raised within it, and get on with your day. 

Negative Feedback: I am inevitable


And there you have 5 techniques/mindsets/whatever you want to call them, that may help you deal with any negative feedback from employees. 

If you take one thing away from this blog, let it be that negative feedback means your employees care. And when your employees care, you’re doing something right.

If you’re ready to hear what you might not want to hear about your business, drop us a line at hello@wotter.ai. 

Fancy learning a bit more? Head over to our learning hub for our full selection of articles. And make sure to follow us on twitter!


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