Giving constructive criticism is almost as hard as receiving it. But it’s also essential—your feedback will help your employee’s career growth and ultimately strengthen the entire organization.
1. Start With Praise
While this technique is an old, well-known one, it’s still frequently forgotten. Before you tell people what they could be doing better, tell them what they’re doing well. This will mitigate any beliefs they might have that they’re not good enough or that you don’t appreciate their work. Plus, it will make them more receptive to hearing about the areas in which they could improve.
2. Pick the Right Time and Place
Calling employees into your office might feel comfortable for you, but imagine how intimidating the environment must feel for them.
We suggest taking your feedback sessions onto neutral territory. That could be a small, intimate conference room, a restaurant, or even an area near the office where you can walk. Alternatively, consider sending employees messages rather than meeting them in-person. You’ll get the message across, but they won’t feel like they’re being reprimanded. Plus, written feedback can be much more spontaneous and casual—which makes it even easier to receive.
3. Give Specifics
There’s nothing worse than hearing, “You should try harder,” or “We’re expecting more from you.”
After all, how exactly should the employee change his or her behavior after hearing that? Instead, make your constructive criticism as specific as possible (without sounding overly demanding.) For example, you might say, “It’s so appreciated how you always submit your reports on time. However, I’d like you to double-check all your numbers so we can be sure they’re all correct.”
4. Describe Why
As you can see in the above example, it’s important to tell your direct report why you’re making your request. If you don’t, you run the risk of being the unreasonable boss who asks for things “just because.”
Imagine your employee isn’t meeting her sales goals. Instead of merely saying, “You need to sell 10 plans a month,” (which she already knows), try something along the lines of, “It’s important you hit your monthly sales goal—that number allows us to keep growing at a consistent rate and show investors we’re worth their money.”
5. Ask for Their Feedback
To show your employees the constructive criticism can go both ways, make sure you’re regularly asking for their comments as well. However, don’t try to both give and receive criticism in the same session—you’re probably not going to get the most objective answers from your team if you’ve just finished describing where they’re lacking (even if you do it in the most tactful way possible!)
More than half of millennial workers want communication to occur at least once a day. That means the traditional scheduled review cycle is outdated. Luckily, there are a number of programs, including RubiBoard, that will enable you to set up a system where employees can give and receive feedback from their peers and supervisors continuously.
Having the opportunity to give their co-workers and superiors feedback makes it clear that constructive criticism isn’t an attack on anyone’s character—it’s designed to make the entire company stronger, and no one is above it.
These principles will allow you to get your message across without hurting any feelings or creating resentment. Next time you’re giving constructive criticism, make sure to implement them!
About the Author
Aja Frost is a freelance writer who covers career, lifestyle, current events, and social justice. Say hi to her on Twitter.
Tags: constructive criticism