Criticism in the work place is often masked as a compliment, or a helping hand. Sadly, it is not always constructive nor is it as progressive as it is thought to be by the person delivering it.
Yet criticism is craved by its potential recipients. Why? Because if you approach criticism as feedback then it covers both what has been done right and it serves as a pathway to what can yet be accomplished – with more confidence, ease, technique and support. This yields results in both professional and personal development of the individual and the betterment of the bottom line for a company or the team.
Give people what they need and want by monitoring your mindset:
- Be direct with a good dollop of tact mixed in with your honesty.
- Remember that feedback is a loop that allows not only team leads, employers and supervisors to lay on the suggestions to improve and the flow of feedback from front line staff on whether policies or the process of implementation or participation ‘on the ground’ is really working for everyone’s benefit.
- Focus on solutions not blame or generalizations against any one staff member.
- This means being specific so that the critiqued person can identify an action and take it.
- Create a culture of communication with regular contact opportunities!
Our #1 mindset tip – honesty – can lead to harshness. You and I have seen or experienced this at some point in our work, education, volunteer or social lives. Well meaning or not, poorly delivered criticism can damage, and we don’t need any more factors tearing anyone down in our world do we?
Here are some steps then to moderate the giving of criticism. Constructive criticism can help people feel secure, more competent and it can lead to progress if you:
- Start from an honest place. If you harbour anger or ill feelings toward the person you are about to criticize, then you are not the one who can best deliver the needed advice or feedback.
- Open on an ovation. A compliment warms the session and helps open the hearts and ears of people. It lets them know they have not failed and you’re not angry. Close the ‘sandwich’ on a positive note with the critique in the middle.
- Compose yourself. Listen to our own tone. Observe your body language. Make eye contact and choose your words well. The team member you are hoping will take in your request is also taking in all these other cues. Eye contact alone will indicate that you are truly paying attention to that person and not the computer or calendar or clock that is nearby.
- Be considerate and be human. Offer privacy and sensitivity in your choice of time and place. Choose a comfortable place that is private, but also consider if the time you are choosing will disadvantage the person from really listening because they are tired or hungry and therefore unable to manage your feedback appropriately.
- Negotiate your needs in the critique and strive not to hurt feelings, rather to offer suggestions for improvement…. then stop, move on and don’t nag.
VIP Your very important point of progress is to frame your criticism so that it is sent, received well and a mutual understanding is established based on the clarity of your message. Criticism is a great tool for learning, leading and the building of great teams.