When you have to evaluate someone, it is easy to err on the side of being nice. When you really like the person outside of work or they are your friend, it becomes doubly hard. It is still important to be honest with feedback for someone so that they can improve and important for future teams so that they can make sure the person is the right fit.
I tend to use a lesson learned long ago to escalate problems I’m having with people.
First, talking to the person is often the earliest and easiest way to give someone feedback. Often people will not know something is wrong and are more than willing to fix it.
Second, if the person doesn’t respond, let them know you will take your feedback to their boss if needed. Give them a timeframe to improve and tell them what you will do if they don’t.
Third, evaluate how the person is doing and possibly even get a second opinion.
Finally, putting honest feedback into a review will help teams evaluate the person’s strengths and weaknesses for the future. Even bad feedback with a good outcome can help someone’s review for the future. Who doesn’t like to see someone improve?
When you sugarcoat a review, you hurt the person by not letting them improve and future teams they will work with by not letting them see where they need to cover or help someone.