This blog will provide you with the essentials for giving constructive criticism in the workplace.
Providing criticism is a soft skill that many people grapple with both personally and professionally. At times, even when we prepare to have an objective conversation, somehow within minutes it can escalate into a subjective attack or misunderstanding.
What causes these conversations to derail? – Like my accounting teacher used to say; “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”.
Like all important conversations, preparation is essential. We suggest that you use the following five step approach when preparing to critique the behaviour of a colleague or employee in the workplace.
Prepare for the conversation
- What is the objective of the conversation?
- What are their strengths?
- What are the behaviours you want to critique?
- What are the objective points and specific criteria?
- How can you avoid being subjective? E.g. use ‘I statements’
- What tone of voice will you use?
- If there is a misunderstanding, what will you do?
Begin the conversation by focusing on their strengths
- Constructive criticism encourages positive change in another, whereas destructive criticism does the opposite, condemning and discouraging another
- Positive Reinforcement. Commend the work they are doing well
Provide constructive criticism
- Break it down. Don’t say it all at once
- Leave time for interpretation and clarification – make sure there are no misunderstandings
- Encourage self-critique and creative solutions
- Avoid subjective. Focus on objective and specific points
- Focus on behaviours, not the person
- Use ‘I statements’
Refer back to their strengths and positive behaviours
- Reiterate the positive comments and results
- Reinforce what they are doing right and the benefits of acting upon criticism effectively
- Assess progress being made
- Focus on improvements
- Encourage self-criticism and creative solutions