By Khatera Sahibzada Ph.D.

Giving feedback is unquestionably one of the most challenging tasks for any leader, as it can be painful to both the giver and receiver. It is nonetheless invaluable: Research has shown that employees recognize the importance of feedback – whether positive or negative – to their career development.

Many even welcome it, provided it’s given well. One study of nearly a thousand employees both in the U.S. and abroad found that 92 percent believed that negative feedback is effective at improving performance – “if delivered appropriately.”

Unfortunately, most leaders are reluctant and uncomfortable providing negative feedback – and when they give it, they don’t follow the “appropriate” advice above. In a study of 2,700 leaders, researchers found that a majority tend to avoid giving negative feedback and 43 percent described doing so as a “stressful and difficult experience.”

There are a host of reasons why this may be the case, most of which can be boiled down to the notion that humans are wired to avoid pain. So how can managers become better at providing their employees with negative feedback that successfully highlights problems and how to resolve them?