Giving criticism, specifically constructive criticism, is never easy. Constructive criticism should motivate changes in work performances and can be very difficult when dealing with sensitive employees. Below, we’ve highlighted 5 ways managers can inspire positive growth through effective constructive criticism.
1. Be careful with your word choice.
If you are dealing with a particular employee that tends to get under your last nerve, pretend he or she is someone you deeply respect. In order to lead the conversation civilly and fairly, be careful with your choice of words and be cautious of how the other person may feel upon hearing them. Remember that as a manager, your aim should be to mentor and guide your staff in the right direction.
2. Don’t make it personal.
Always separate your employee’s work from their personality. Focus your discussion on the problem at hand, not the person.
Example of constructive criticism: “I recommend keeping a schedule so that you can have more structure in your work and avoid missing future deadlines.”
Example of destructive criticism: “You are unreliable and unorganized.”
The first example does not attack any personality traits and provides a positive strategy for a realistic change. The second example, however, attacks negative personality traits.
3. Set positive goals.
Instead of reprimanding missed deadlines, think in terms of future positive changes. Focus on opportunity rather than being threatening.
Example of constructive criticism: “In the future, try to plan ahead of schedule, so that you can get things done in time.”
Example of destructive criticism: “You need to stop leaving things until the very last minute!”
An employee will be more likely see the first example as a positive opportunity for self-improvement, whereas the second example is likely to be seen as a threat. Emphasis on failure is likely to result in poor performance levels, which defeats the whole purpose of constructive criticism.
4. Avoid being too prescriptive.
Telling someone exactly what to do isn’t always the best approach to take. Sometimes offering a constructive perspective on where the person could improve, but letting them figure out their own solution, will get better results. Try to use phrases that focus on personal goal achievement.
Example of constructive criticism: “If you start focusing on A and develop a plan to get to B, you’re more likely to achieve your goals before the deadline.”
5. Follow-up with feedback.
If you notice that your employee’s performance levels are improving, be sure to let them know! This will motivate them to continue to make the effort to do better.
If you have recently been promoted to a management role or simply want to improve your skills, enroll in our Fundamentals of Supervision and Management course!