I've shared feedback before with engineers more junior than me, and they didn't seem to take it well. They started avoiding our meetings afterwards - I feel like they thought their PSC was at risk. How can I prevent this situation from happening in the future when sharing feedback with E3s/E4s?
A trick I learned from another manager: Always frame it in a way that you two are on the same side of the table.
Do you believe in the following statements?
If these statements are not true for you, e.g. you are just annoyed by the other engineer's certain behavior and you just want to change them for your own benefit, this is not going to work well for you.
Even in the extreme case when dealing with underperformance and potentially letting go of a person, we have to think in this way: You and I are aligned. You want to perform better and I want to help you perform better. We have a common problem in front of us, which is your underperformance. We work as one team to tackle this problem together.
Never put the other person on the other side of the table. This thinking is guaranteed to backfire: I have a problem, which is your underperformance. You as a person are part of this problem that I have to deal with. That's very confrontational.
Find the alignment between you two. Maybe he wants good PSC and you want them to have good PSC. Communicate that -- you are genuinely interested in helping them improve and get a better outcome in PSC. If he's open to this then you can move forward with your feedback.