4 Tips for Giving Constructive Criticism

Posted July 03, 2018

No matter who you hire, there is always going to be room to help your employees grow, and that includes constructive criticism. Giving thoughtful feedback to an employee who may have done a less than stellar job is almost an art form - it takes patience, understanding, and sensitivity. But it also takes honesty and facts. Giving constructive criticism is hard to do, and can become awkward and uncomfortable if done wrong. Instead of fearing these types of conversations with employees, there are effective ways to approach them head on with a bit of preparation and organization.

To ensure your criticism is well received and taken into consideration for future projects, use these 4 tips below.

1. Be concise

There is no room for lallygagging during these types of conversations. Getting to the root of the issue is vital to keeping the conversation streamlined. Don't spend more time than you need to on idle chatter before getting to your point. This allows both you and your employee to avoid confusing emotions and keep the conversation professional.

2. Allow for questions and concerns

Make this a two-way conversation. Once you've expressed your feedback, allow employees to ask questions and express concerns so that they fully understand what you are trying to relay. An open dialogue keeps the conversation from reaching a boiling point with one party controlling the narrative. And there is a chance that your employee will have a good reason for doing what you thought they shouldn't have. Different points of view will be on the table, and even if you ultimately disagree, they will at least have been able to have said their peace before moving on with your feedback.

3. Don't get personal

The last thing you want is for your employee to feel as though they are being personally attacked. Ensure that your conversation revolves around the situation at hand, and not a critique on their character. Discuss the issue, not the person. For example, use the phrase, "Your assignment is overdue" instead of "You are late sending me the assignment." Also, include yourself in the conversation, and how the situation affected you. Instead of only talking about how late the assignment was, say how the late assignment affected your ability to get your work done.

4. Empathy is important

Empathy is a key ingredient in constructive conversations. While this is true not only in the office but in life in general, it's especially important during when giving constructive feedback. While you may be dealing with an employee who has an increasing number of infractions or someone who is having a difficult time accepting your feedback, approaching the conversation with empathy will allow you to maintain your cool and avoid resentment. There may be a good reason they have done what they've done, and allowing empathy to remain a constant will help you understand and better prepare them to nail the task in the future.

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