18 Apr, 2021

How To Give Constructive Criticism In The Workplace

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Written by
Bianca Polizzi
The process of giving constructive criticism is an integral part of making sure that employees are aware of where they stand performance-wise. Constructive feedback can be provided in either a formal or informal setting, and its purpose is to help employees improve and grow - both in the workspace and in their personal lives.

“Every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration. Constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought.” – Margaret Chase Smith

However, because the word criticize is in the phrase, many people can respond negatively to receiving this type of feedback, whether they react by becoming defensive, hurt, or demotivated.

That’s why it is so important to be mindful of how you frame and deliver your feedback. This will help ensure that the input is indeed constructive - and received in a way that the employee will find is beneficial and makes them WANT to do their job better.

So here are our top tips on how to be kind when giving constructive criticism to your employees:

Be empathetic

Put yourself in your employee’s shoes. Think back to times that you’ve received feedback and how it made you feel. Giving feedback shouldn’t feel like an awkward situation; let the employee know that giving and receiving feedback is just part of the job to make life easier for everyone. How else could the work improve?

Also try to remember that if any errors have been made, it may have been down to your employee training not covering all aspects of the role in enough detail - or your staff could be overloaded with work right now so ask these questions. This way you will learn from the experience too and you are showing that you’re in this together.

Don’t make it personal

Constructive criticism should never be about an employee’s personality. It should be about their actions and how they can be improved. Be matter-of-fact with your employee. We recommend checking out Kathleen Taylor-Gadsby’s method of “Behavior - impact - and action” for this to help you structure your thoughts better before you say something that might be taken the wrong way.

An example may sound like this: “As your project wasn’t submitted on time (behavior), we had to postpone our team meeting (impact). Next time, just let me know if you need help to deliver it on time or if you think you might be late so that we can work together to plan accordingly (action).”

This technique is great as it will allow your employee to have a goal of improvement rather than focusing on their faults by finishing on an action or solution.

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