Giving constructive criticism is an important part of your job as a leader. But it can be a challenge. Some 81% of respondents to our Best Practices Poll say they’re good at it, and offered their advice on how to do it best:
- “Most subordinates are uncomfortable with criticism, constructive or otherwise,” says hatiyyah. “If you have a cordial, non-condescending work relationship with them, they tend to accept criticism more readily. I try always to make this a learning experience for all and to allay their apprehension of being evaluated.”
- “Discuss the behaviour or result—not the person,” says rihall.
- “Ultimately, constructive criticism involves breaking a problem down to its root cause and developing a plan to deal with that cause,” says danderson197. “Most often, the people involved know the cause and will be willing to tell you. Perhaps not in a way you like, but listen to the comments, complaints or whining. There will be an answer in there somewhere. The important thing is to find where the problem lies. Remember that your problem isn’t the readily apparent poor work or missed deadline, for example. If you focus only on the poor result in front of you, you will only be able to fix that result (maybe). Your goal is to prevent future occurrences. Constructive criticism is all about solutions and answers, not criticism and not blame.”
- “There is no such thing as constructive criticism,” says pajunen. “It is an oxymoron. All criticism is destructive. Constructive self-discovery coaching is a method of assisting another to discover for him/herself just what they did and determining if they know any way that it could be done more effectively. If they don’t, then it is your role as manager to ensure they have the training, skills, knowledge and opportunity required to do it better.”
- “Start by pointing out everything that is positive—their skills and unique abilities—and indicate how these have helped you or the company,” suggests lesley. “Then say something like, ‘Here’s where I think you have the potential to do even better. I’d like you to try doing this because I have a strong feeling that you could be even more successful and have better results’. Then, be sure to get their buy-in by asking, ‘Is this something you are interested in working on? How do you think you’ll go about this? Do you need help (i.e., training or mentoring)? When should we meet again to review your progress?’ Express confidence in them, saying something like, ‘I know you can do this!’ Finally, upon receiving their commitment, give commendation. Taking criticism is not easy to do, and there are few things more admirable than when someone accepts it with graciousness.”
For her answer, Lesley will receive a copy of Corporate MVPs by Margaret Butteriss and Bill Roiter.
Watch for another Best Practices Poll in the next PROFIT-Xtra.