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How to Deliver Constructive Criticism

Criticism is defined as, “the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.” In the workplace, it is crucial that mistakes are brought to light so they can be corrected and not repeated in the future. 

It is extremely important, however, to make sure you are approaching these faults with a constructive mentality and are delivering the criticism respectfully. Here are our top tips on how to best deliver constructive criticism:

1. Don’t make it personal. Keep the criticism tied to what the person did, not who they are as a person. For example, if someone always has typos in their emails to clients, focus on the typos, not on their skill level or personality.

2. Deliver constructive criticism in private. Do not bring up what so-and-so did wrong in front of the entire company, in a team meeting, on a group email, etc. It is very important to make sure that privacy is ensured so that both parties feel comfortable discussing the situation and no one is left feeling embarrassed or ashamed. 

3. Schedule a time to meet. This is so important. No one likes to hear, “Hey, can you come meet me in my office in 5 minutes?” This is a sure-fire way to catch someone off guard and unprepared. Ask them, privately either in-person or via email, to meet and explain you would like to discuss XYZ. This will give them time to prepare for the discussion.

4. Keep open communication. When providing constructive criticism you want the individual you are speaking with to feel able to open up to you and share their views and perspectives. It is important that this conversation is a two-way street and both individuals are working together to find the next best steps to take moving forward. 

5. Be clear. Don’t dance around the issue. You need to be specific in sharing with the individual the situation. Provide examples so they can understand exactly what you are referring to.

6. Share ideas on how they can improve. So now that you’ve shared with them what they are doing wrong, it is really important to share with them some ideas of how they can improve. Again, this should be a conversation, so make sure you are sharing your ideas, asking their thoughts regarding them, and asking them if they have any ideas on how to improve moving forward.

7. Don’t forget to be positive! Share with the individual aspects of the situation they handled correctly or did right. Be careful, however, to not just say something nice because you feel as though you have to. Be genuine! 

Constructive criticism has the ability to be a positive tool for moving a company forward, in that it builds stronger working relationships, fosters personal growth, and clarifies expectations. By keeping these seven tips in mind when delivering constructive criticism you will be able to bring about positive forward movement in your workplace.

One routine time many managers are tasked with providing constructive criticism for their employees is during annual or semi-annual performance reviews. Check out our blog post with all the specifics on How to Create an Easier Performance Review!

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