• MGMTinsight

Feedback can be a valuable employee relations tool.

Updated: Feb 17




You are a manager with a team of workers, and several have the same job title. There are often opportunities to be promoted to a senior level position and/or to a supervisory role. Team members look for opportunities to stand out and be considered for one of the senior roles. Many of them vie for these positions.


Tasha is always requesting additional work or asking you for more assignments. She sees this as a way to advance her career. As her manager, you often choose to give the work assignments she’s requested to one of the other team members. Tasha has been on the team for 3 years and is the only woman on the team. When Tasha asks you why she didn’t get an assignment she requested, you are vague about your reasons in order to be careful not to hurt her feelings. You just don’t want any kind of conflict.

A few months later, you hire Josh as a new team member because of his relevant experience doing similar duties as those on your team. You hired Josh hoping he could fill in some of the gaps on the team, and so far you are pleased to see that he is doing as good a job as you had hoped.


You give Josh some of the assignments that Tasha has previously requested. Tasha immediately wonders why, but she doesn’t feel comfortable approaching you since you don’t seem to give her straight answers. She thinks about all her previous discussions with you and asks herself: “What is the difference? Why not me?” Oh, did I mention that Tasha is the only African American on the team? Tasha concludes that you have an issue with her gender and her race. She decides to file a complaint.


Tasha believes she has demonstrated that she is a dedicated employee with ambition. As her manager, having open conversations with Tasha about your expectations and what she needs to do to accomplish her goals would be beneficial to both of you.


However, the reality is that Tasha’s performance is not at the same level as her peers. Tasha has not acquired some skills that some of the others have and hasn’t always been consistent in the quality of her work. You have not had this specific conversation with Tasha, nor have you developed a performance improvement plan to help guide her.


The accusation of gender and racial bias will take a lot of time and energy and money to defend. Also, the complaint has a negative impact on your working rapport with Tasha.


You are now hesitant to give Tasha any feedback. Additionally, Tasha is not sure she can trust you. The other team members can tell something is up between you and Tasha, and it is causing tension within the group.


  • How do you move forward and become a manager who feels confident having difficult conversations?

  • How would honest feedback have benefited you, Tasha and the company?

  • How should you approach Tasha about her work quality?

  • Do you have a process in place for feedback with team members about their goals with the company?

  • Could regular performance feedback and evaluations have been used as a tool to avoid this situation?

  • Do you know how and when both positive and negative feedback benefits everyone on your team?

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