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How To Give Effective Constructive Criticism


As your business begins to grow, you might take on the role of management. Offering practical, constructive criticism is an essential part of managing others, but is something that many people put off. Being able to provide thoughtful feedback that can help them grow is not an easy task, especially if everything is not going well.

As a manager, you are going to have to become extremely comfortable delivering constructive criticism, because it is more likely going to need to happen many times. It does not matter if it is someone who is underperforming or someone who gets on your last nerves, you will have to give feedback that isn’t easy always. In fact, studies have shown that there is a 14.9% lower turnover rates in companies that regularly provide employees with feedback. By implementing a feedback system, you can help keep your business running smoothly and efficiently.


Be Mindful Of Tone

Let’s say that the person you need to give feedback to is someone who easily frustrates you or isn’t your favorite in the office. When you already start off with a short temper, it is easy to come off sounding like a jerk. To keep the conversation polite and fair, you should act like you are talking to someone you respect. Remember, this should be a collaborative conversation so your tone should be inviting.

It is important to remember the point of giving feedback is to help someone improve or fix a problem that is affecting you or others. You are not here to vent or show off your ego to others. However, if that is what you are doing, reevaluate if you have any real constructive feedback to offer. Unless you want to help someone improve or correct a behavior genuinely, then it is possible that you shouldn’t be saying anything at all.


Pick The Right Time

Understandably, you might put off giving feedback that is hard to deliver. However, this makes it harder to give constructive criticism when it is necessary. It also makes it harder for the employee to change their ways because they might have forgotten the situation and don’t remember it as clearly. Additionally, you should try not to criticize people in front of co-workers or peers.

Just as necessary is for you not to give feedback the moment the situation has ended. The person will still be feeling overwhelmed so they won’t be able to take in the changes effectively.


Begin With Praise

It can be easier to hear something negative if we are first recognized for what we have done well. In fact, employees are 30 times more likely to actively engage at work when their managers understand what their employee’s strengths are. When beginning with praise, start with sincere appreciation and try to avoid the word “but” after the praise. Instead, use the word “and” to show the continued positive progress that is wanted.

But only begin with praise if you actually believe it. By not meaning the compliment, it makes you seem insecure, and it will make the rest of what you are saying not as useful either.


Be Specific

If you aren’t able to say precisely what you want to be improved, then it makes it hard for the person actually to achieve that! Give specific feedback, such as “I would like to see more facts and statistics in your reports,” so they know exactly what to do. Giving vague advice like, “get more clients,” or “act like a leader” can lead to confusion on your employees part. Even though they might want to act on your feedback, if they don’t have the tools or directions to work on it, then they will often not change their behavior at all. As the manager, you need to lead your team along the path.


Turn The Tables

Sometimes, it is best to set a scenario that you want your employee to fix. However, try to find an example of something that could happen to anyone on your team. This helps reduce feelings of defensive before you are even able to get to your point.

Once you set the stage with your example, turn the tables and put your employee in the driver’s seat. Ask them what they would suggest in the situation or how they think it should be managed. By giving them a small piece of control, it empowers them. It will help open up the discussion and allow you both to share what you think what will work, and what hasn’t worked. Working through this process without anyone feeling like they are getting overly criticized or thrown under the bus.

By the end of your discussion, your employee might have identified their own personal challenges and have realized what the best solutions are. So even if you have started and guided the dialogue, the advice and ideas will be his, and that can help motivate change.


Follow Up

Now that you have done the hard part and given feedback, you need to check back in and make sure the message was delivered and received. 65% of employees have said they want more feedback, so you should be scheduling one-on-one feedback sessions more often.  If they misunderstood or haven’t changed, you can correct this behavior sooner, rather than later.

By checking in a week later, you can give your employee a chance to improve and grow as well. Because you asked for their feedback in the situation earlier, your employee will hopefully take ownership of the solution and become responsible for its success. Therefore, by giving your employee the chance to follow their own advice, and entrusting him with the time to do it, the feedback might stick and help your employee grow.

When done correctly, employee feedback can lead to a massive increase in engagement. People naturally want to improve themselves, and one way you can help them as a manager to do that is by giving timely, specific, and helpful feedback. Positive feedback or constructive criticism: both are vital to keeping your employees, and ultimately you, happy.

Lindsey Conger on InstagramLindsey Conger on Twitter
Lindsey Conger
Associate News Writer: Lindsey is a writer originally from Chicago but can now be found somewhere in Europe. She is driven by a passion to explore every corner of the world, spread her marketing and business knowledge, and to be able to speak Spanish fluently. Follow her on Instagram at @lindseyaconger

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Associate News Writer: Lindsey is a writer originally from Chicago but can now be found somewhere in Europe. She is driven by a passion to explore every corner of the world, spread her marketing and business knowledge, and to be able to speak Spanish fluently. Follow her on Instagram at @lindseyaconger

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