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How to give constructive criticism

No one likes to be criticised especially when it is an attack on their identity but there are times when criticism is necessary to help someone grow in their position. How we deliver this criticism can either grow and build our business or it can cause our employees to become disengaged. Today we will look at some useful steps to giving constructive criticism in a way to build and empower our employees to be their best in our business.

1. Be aware of the timing

Criticism is best given when there is time to have a good discussion about what has been said. It should also not be spoken in a public forum but rather in a private area so that the employee doesn’t feel like an example is being made of them.

2. Focus on the action, not the person

When highlighting the behaviour you wish your employee to change it is important to speak about the action and not the person. This can be done by using the passive voice and avoiding you-statements. For example: Instead of saying “You are impatient with clients”, it is better to say “Your impatience with clients is unacceptable”.

3. Observe the behaviour

When talking about unacceptable behaviour it is important not to make any assumptions about the person because of their actions. You should talk about the incident which has brought the unacceptable behaviour to light. When you have described the incident, then ask the employee to explain why he behaved in such a manner. This will also help you to advise what the next actionable steps are going forward.

4. Talk about a specific incident

When talking about the criticism it is crucial to highlight a specific occasion when the behaviour or event occurred. Don’t give vague criticism about someone’s behaviour. For example: Instead of saying “you are impatient with customers consistently”, it is better to say “Yesterday, I noticed that you kept interrupting the customer while they were talking to you about their needs.” Another aspect to remember is to use I-statements to explain how you perceived the incident. You can also relate the behaviour to your own behaviour and how you overcame it.

5. Give specific actionable steps

When you have finished discussing the incidents, then you need to outline the actionable steps you want your employee to take to rectify the behaviour. If there are actions which you as the employer need to take, then you should do them as soon as possible to show the employee you are willing to work together to improve the situation or behaviour.

6. Give praise where appropriate

Sometimes it might be appropriate to offer praise in a certain area of your employee’s performance before working on the improvements. By doing this you will build a positive environment that may make your criticism easier to hear. This may also show that you want to help the employee grow to be their best.

By following these six steps you will be well on your way to giving constructive criticism which will be well received and with actionable steps to improve.

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