When leaders label their feedback as “negative”, they set themselves and their employees up for a less than favorable experience. The truth is feedback is neutral. It’s the interpretation of feedback that creates the emotional charge around it. When you say you have to give negative feedback, fear is the likely emotion to arise in you. You feel anxious about the response you might receive from your employee and whether or not you’ll be able to manage that response. Your fear and anxiety will speak louder than your words when you give the feedback. Your employee will react to your emotional state by either shutting down or verbally fight back, both of which will prohibit transparency and the opportunity for growth. Ask yourself, what would it look like for your feedback to fully support your employee’s growth and development? How can you create a dialogue that allows your employee to trust you and learn from you? Finally, by delaying feedback, your employee will continue to struggle, reducing the likelihood of their success. In fact, the longer you wait, the more likely you and others are to create a multi-layered story about the employee that completely sabotages their success. Honest and compassionate feedback, given in a timely manner, is what leads to new behaviors and improved results. It’s what your employees expect from you.