If I had a nickel for every conversation I have had about removing a ‘label’ that a manager or leader gave a team member, I’d be a wealthy, wealthy woman.

We have many people working in office buildings all over North America who have an overwhelming feeling of being demoralized in the workplace. A-List employees that are stressed out beyond measure trying to do a job that exceeds the expectations placed upon them as they are battling a story of ‘who they are’ in the eyes of their leader.

What are you saying, Tammy? If you have ever offered a suggestion for improvement to your team member, how you offer feedback is critical. It is critical to the individual, and to the team as it opens up the arena for emotions to wreak havoc on the environment. When we don’t care for how the information is received, we are missing half of the communication opportunity–and likely sabotaging the goal of behavior change. Not to mention what happens to the team as a whole, not just the individual.

In a 2001 Yale University School of Management study, Dr. Sigal Barsade reported that not only are emotions contagious, but negative emotions will come at a big cost if left alone.

How do negative emotions cost you as a leader? Your team performance will take a drastic dive because they are spending more time talking about their emotions than they are about successfully completing their work. All of which can be avoided with the way you deliver the unit news or share the feedback with your team member.

In a recent study by Accountemps, 39% of CFOs interviewed said lack of communications between staff and management is the most frequent mistake companies make in managing their teams.

That statistic tells us one thing: if our people are not sharing in robust dialogue consistently, we are attacking their ability to perform.

Creating the ability for such dialogue starts with the leader. Whether you need to share the good, the bad or the ugly, it is the leader’s primary responsibility to open the space up for two way dialogue. Especially when there is a review or corrective action that may be taking place.

There is one simple step that every leader, manager, or supervisor can take to effectively communicate the tough news.

Give Examples of what you mean. 

We all know there are things that need to be communicated that are not always positive. That can have a painful effect on our employees. And, we all know that there are times when you can’t get around putting forward a corrective action or opportunity for improvement in an employee review.

But, when we simply put down on paper an area of improvement, i.e., Narrow Focus or More Innovation, without giving examples of what that may look like or mean, we leave a lot of emotion on the table. Those emotions will fester and can become lethal inside any organization.

However, when we explain a scenario that is real to the person and remain open for robust dialogue to occur, even push back; we allow the team member to gain clarity as they process through their emotion. You’ve contained the negative so that it doesn’t become contagious.

More importantly, you modeled for your team members how you want them to communicate the good, bad and ugly with you. Which makes it a win-win all around.

When you have you experienced being labeled by your boss and weren’t sure what to do with it?

How did you manage to overcome the labeling and maintain high performance standards?