How to Offer Constructive Criticism
Written by Chukwuma Asala for Gaebler Ventures
The toughest thing about managing people is you're in a position where you see the mistakes they make and feel the need to correct them. This is especially important if these mistakes could prove very costly to the organization as a whole. This article will give a few tips on how to offer criticism without creating dissension with your employees.
Most people have heard the statement made that there is no such thing as constructive criticism.
Criticism in any manner, shape, or form, will demoralize and de-motivate any employee. It highlights things they are not doing right versus putting spotlight on the things they are doing. This all sounds like marshmallows and smores when documented on paper, but just how does one go about correcting someone if they are doing something that is affecting the growth or the results of a company or business?
Use the sandwich method
The sandwich method is a good way to bring up something negative to a staff member or employee. It involves stating something positive first, then bringing up the negative thing that needs to be brought to their attention, and then finishing up the conversation on a positive note or statement about their work once again. So if you MUST criticize, make sure to praise the things they have been doing well, briefly but thoroughly state what they need to improve and then finish up by stating your full confidence in their ability to continue being big performer.
Criticize the action, not the person
This is management 101. Most people have a low self-image because they were put in the responsibility of people who didn't understand how important it was not to criticize individual people. Athletes will continue to complain about coaches who yell at them for making mistakes and employees will continue to complain about bosses for the exact same reason.
If someone makes a mistake, talk about the mistake. The person isn't stupid for making the mistake. The use of the word stupid puts more emphasis on the state of the person versus the mistake that was made.
If a job was mismanaged, then state exactly that the job was mismanaged. This makes criticizing easier and the person is more willing to accept the criticism because it has nothing to do with who they are as a person and everything with the project that they know they can do better on. In their mind it is much easier to fix a project than fix themselves.
Do it in private
Criticism for the most part is not bad at all. Most people really just despise being criticized in public. At all costs you should avoid reprimanding anyone in public or in front of anyone except the both of you. They will respect the fact that you thought enough of their self-respect to not criticize them in public. This will in turn make them more open to criticism in the future knowing that there ego will always be protected.
Evaluate your intentions
This is important as it will remind you that the reason you want to stop this negative thing from happening again is for the good of the organization and so they can improve. If you do not feel positive about giving criticism then you probably shouldn't.
Chukwuma Asala is an international student from Nigeria who is studying to earn an MBA from the State University of New York in Albany. He has analyzed more than 20 industry case studies throughout his education thus far, and hopes to bring some of his business knowledge to Gaebler.com.
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