How to Deliver Constructive Criticism in the Workplace

As posted by Robert Half Management Resources

Constructive criticism is much more than a routine staff management responsibility. Consistent, concise and honest feedback should also be a recurring feature of any long-term professional development plan.

If you’re hoping to train your employees to take on more advanced roles in the organization and meet your succession planning objectives, constructive criticism is one of the most valuable things you can offer as a manager. Helping staff members advance to the next level depends on your ability to identify specific areas for improvement, and to inspire your workers to take ownership of their own development.

To be effective — and not be misconstrued as a personal attack — constructive criticism must be delivered properly. Keep the following tips in mind the next time you provide feedback to your staff:

Avoid surprises

If you summon workers to your office for a formal meeting without advance notice, it is natural that they might feel intimidated – and therefore, not receptive to what you have to say.

To avoid an “ambush,” reach out to the employee to schedule the meeting at a time that works well for both of you and explain what you want to talk about. This shows consideration for the team member’s feelings, and also gives that person time to prepare for the discussion.

Be clear and offer examples

The ultimate goal of your meeting is to motivate the employee — in a positive way — to improve his or her performance. So, make sure that you come to the meeting prepared. When offering constructive criticism to a member of your team, you want to show that you’ve given the matter careful thought.

One strategy for preparation is to develop a clear and detailed outline of what you want to communicate. Ask yourself this core question: How do you want the employee to improve — and why?

Another tip: Use specific examples to tie your comments and recommendations directly to how the employee’s performance has an impact on your department and on your team’s ability to meet specific business objectives. Your feedback is likely to resonate more when there is context.

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