Nick Lowe and Hamlet think so. But rocker and poetic license aside, is there some truth in this well-worn phrase?
In working with a diverse group of nonprofit organizations in Florida, we repeatedly hear the desire for open and direct communication. One of the most respected attributes in a leader is someone who uses clear and concise communication to build an atmosphere of trust. So while no one is asking to be treated cruelly, there is a clear preference for honest feedback delivered in a timely manner over being handled so gently that the message is prolonged and perhaps never truly heard.
When you are sharing praise or constructive criticism, be specific and to the point. Your employees and those to whom you report want to know what you think and how they can bring their best game to the organization. Let them know that your input is part of your investment in and commitment to the value they add to your mission work.
Feedback should be provided all year long, and no employee should hear recommendations to improve performance for the first time during their evaluation. The evaluation process is a time of increased vulnerability, and your team members will absorb your overall assessment in a more constructive way if it’s used to reinforce ongoing feedback.
So don’t be cruel and do be kind – but don’t let your message get lost in the process.