How to give Constructive Criticism
If you’re not happy with how a member of staff or a colleague is performing, how do you try to resolve it without causing upset? We look at ‘How to give constructive criticism’.
Whatever the area is that needs to be addressed, it’s never an easy task to tell someone that you’re not happy with something and things need to improve. There’s a delicate line you have to walk, whether it’s one of your employees or a colleague that you work closely with on a day to day basis, you want to get the problem resolved in the best possible way – and move on.
Here are our top tips on how to give constructive criticism:
- Make sure you don’t allow your frustration or anger to show – if it’s a recurring issue, then plan a meeting a day or more ahead, so you can go to the meeting with a calm head
- As a manager, you could suggest it’s time for a quarterly performance review and use this as a way to address the issue. This means it’s wrapped up in a meeting that is perceived as a general review and opens up a 2-way conversation.
- Start off by finding out how they think they’re doing, it’s a good opportunity for them to bring any issues up first, which you can then discuss.
- You don’t know the bigger picture, so try to have an open mind – if they are usually a strong performer hopefully it can improve
- Try to present it in the most positive light you can. Focus on the change that is needed, rather than the problem itself, e.g. This is how we’d like this process to work. We need to do X,Y, Z.
- Make sure you have your meeting in private, nobody wants their faults highlighted in front of colleagues.
- Put yourself in their shoes, how would you like to be told
- Gather your facts – if the problem is a more simple issue, like punctuality, then have dates and times noted of when they were late. They may not be fully aware of their actions.
- Explain how the effects of their actions are impacting the business and potentially other departments or colleagues’
g. If it is too many absences’ this could have a knock-on effect in terms of increasing the workload for others,
- Perhaps there is a pattern where the shortcomings are, and it might be a training need. They might simply need more guidance in one area, or help from a colleague; or a short course in a piece of software.
- Remember the positives, make sure you talk about what they are doing well at, so it’s not all on a downward note. You don’t want to completely demoralise them and put them off coming back to the office.
- Prepare some actions that you can suggest, that will help resolve the problem- this way there are immediate actions that can be taken, and measured if necessary for future reviews.
- Put some timelines against these actions – so you can review in several weeks
But what if you’re not a manager?
If you’re not a manager how do you deal with a colleague’s sloppy performance?
This could be more tricky, although I guess it depends on your relationship with them.
If they’re a friend you could try to talk to them directly about it over a coffee. If you don’t feel comfortable, then you may need to raise it with your manager to ask them to tackle it.
No-one likes to ‘snitch’ but then if you’re bearing the brunt of someone else’s shortcomings it’s not a fair situation.
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