The 10 Commandments of Constructive Criticism

It’s the scenario you dread the most. One of your employees needs to be confronted about an issue. They’re creating conflict among the staff, handling a project wrong or maybe even made a misstep with a valuable client. On the one hand, they have a lot of great points, and you don’t want to lose them, but if you don’t deal with the issue, you might lose in bigger ways. So, what’s your options? Just changing the wording from confrontation to constructive criticism doesn’t change the fact that you have to take action.  You have to find the best way to handle the problem so that the result is a winner for everyone.

Constructive Criticism in 10 Steps:

Face the Facts: Accept that the job has to be done, and you’re the person to do it.

Evaluate the situation: Is there a true issue and does it revolve around the person in question? Sometimes, there is an underlying situation that was previously ignored when it should have been handled. Sometimes, the issue is actually someone’s (even yours) personal baggage getting in the way.

 Choose your time wisely: We don’t mean put it off – that never works. We do mean don’t do it in the heat of the moment, the middle of an intensive project, or at the tired end of a long day. Perhaps the best way is a discreet invitation to your office for a mid-morning break – after the day has gotten off to a good start.

Prepare: Plan ahead and make notes about what you want to say. Choose a specific lead-off “story” that reveals a truth or principle without putting them on the defensive. Put yourself in their shoes

Focus on actions and attitudes – not personal attributes: Yes, you should be honest and upfront, but focus on what needs to be changed and can be changed. For example, don’t ask an extrovert to conduct themselves as an introvert, and tell him/her they are too loud and bossy. But, if they are dominating every meeting, you can ask them to listen to the ideas of others, and take notes on what they had to offer as a way to curb inappropriate enthusiasm that runs over the rest of the team.

Utilize the sandwich method: Share a positive point about their work before and after the criticism. We don’t mean be wishy-washy about what’s wrong or gushy about what’s right. You must be frank and honest about the issue at hand, of course, but it’s essential also to give honest, sincere feedback about why you don’t want them to walk away. Let them know exactly what you appreciate and why. The truth about what is right will give merit to what needs to be changed.

Be specific: If the situation is important enough for you to talk about it with your employee, then it is important enough to be very specific. When they leave the meeting, they should know exactly what was wrong, and why changing it is the only option. They should understand the “bull’s eye” and how it affects the “big picture.”

Make it a two-way conversation: Once you have stated your case, ask them for feedback and listen. Share suggestions for moving forward and ask them how they plan to respond. If it’s a situation that requires time for thought, schedule a second meeting for feedback.

 End on an affirming note: Ensure that they are not only aware of what needs to be changed, but also how valuable they are as an employee.

Followup: Regardless of whether you have a second meeting, always get back to the employee as soon as you see attempts for change. Be their biggest supporter and encourager.  Express your appreciation for the changes made and assure them of your confidence in their continued growth.

Here at Springborn Staffing, we take the time to not only match our clients with amazing candidates, but we also share tips to make their responsibilities go smoother. Are you looking for top talent? Do you need temporary staffing? Whatever your need, we promise answers. Contact us today and discover the difference Springborn makes for companies in Bangor and Portland, Maine.


































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