4 Tips for Giving Constructive Criticism to Your Employees

As a manager, you need to be comfortable giving and receiving feedback on a regular basis. This includes being honest and constructive with employees who may fall short of your performance expectations. You want to enhance results and morale – not hurt anyone’s feelings, damage self-esteem or shut down motivation.

Use these tips to make the process of giving constructive criticism to your staff more successful.

Keep it Private

Criticism won’t be constructive if it’s delivered in the wrong location. Pick a neutral site, such as a small conference room, where you can close the door and speak to your employee face to face.

  • The worst place for this conversation is in the presence of other employees. No one wants to be corrected in front of their peers. It’s humiliating. You also may find that other people naturally rally around the underdog and will turn on you for embarrassing them publicly.
  • This is not the time to send an email. You need to make eye contact and observe body language so you can accurately assess levels of understanding and agreement.

Use Specific Examples

Base your constructive criticism on real examples of employee behavior that needs to change, without pointing fingers.

  • Before your meeting, think back to specific scenarios to illustrate your concerns. Try to pick things that could have happened to any team member. This helps avoid your employee becoming defensive before you make your point.

Let Your Employee Solve the Problem

Encourage self-directed solutions to performance shortfalls. You may find that your employee has an answer to a problem you never knew existed – and you will achieve a more successful outcome as a result.

  • Once you’ve set the stage, put your employee in the driver’s seat. Ask them how they would have handled the matter if the tables were turned. This is empowering – and that’s exactly how you want your team member to feel. It opens up the discussion, allowing both of you to share what works and what does not. Ideally, by the end of your conversation, your employee will have identified their own challenges and have suggested solutions on their own.
  • Take it a step further by giving your employee a chance to put their advice into practice. Let them take ownership and be responsible for the ultimate results of the changes they have proposed. This will help your feedback to stick.

Pretend You’re Talking to Someone Else

Still struggling? If you’re frustrated or honestly don’t especially care for an employee, it can be challenging to find the right words for constructive criticism. Try imagining that you’re speaking to someone you truly like and respect. You’ll likely be more careful and thoughtful with your comments.

  • Liking every one of your employees isn’t in your job description, but leading them is. Guide them in the right direction, even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing at a given moment.

Do you need additional resources for leading your team toward optimal business results? Consider partnering with a workforce development expert from Employment Professionals Canada. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.