CoAdvantage-Providing feedback is a necessary, unavoidable, and often thankless part of managing people. It’s easy when all you need to say is “good job”! But what about delivering criticism after mistakes or poor work? How do you deliver constructive criticism in ways that won’t upset more sensitive workers?
Good, helpful communication is just as vital to a healthy workplace as to any other relationship, and today we’re going to discuss how to give good constructive criticism.
1: ABC – Always Be Clear
Avoid misunderstandings at all costs. While you will want to be sensitive about delivering criticism, you don’t want to talk “around” the subject so much that the employee doesn’t understand what you’re saying. That can end up just creating a set-up-to-fail kind of situation that doesn’t do the employee any favors. It’s kind to be gentle, but it’s equally as kind to be forthright and straightforward.
2: Bookend negative with positive AKA the ‘sandwich method’
Never deliver undiluted negative comments. You want to give the feedback needed for improvement, but you don’t want to demoralize the employee either. Instead, sandwich criticism between two compliments. Including positive comments shows that you value the employee and recognize their achievements.
3: Make it timely
Criticism should be delivered as soon after the fact as possible. Late criticism – like that delivered only in once-a-year performance reviews – often comes too late to be useful and leaves the employee frustrated, especially if it was a problem they could have fixed with prompter input.
4: Focus on the performance, not the person
You don’t want to make an employee feel defensive when you make critical comments. So, never criticize the person, only their actions, behavior, or work output. Then, avoid overuse of the word you. Instead of, “You didn’t meet that customer’s expectations,” put the emphasis on the customer and on mutual problem-solving: “She left feeling unsatisfied. What can we do about that?”
Don’t let the evaluation turn into a lecture. It should be a discussion or, better yet, a collaboration. The first step in preventing employee disengagement is to actively listen to their feedback and input. Ask what they would change in order to improve the situation. If the employee is genuinely interested in improving, then the likelihood of them taking ownership of the situation increases dramatically.
6: Make the feedback actionable
Research from HR Daily Advisor found that nearly one-third (28.3%) of employees felt that performance evaluations were great in theory but “nearly impossible to implement.” To be fair, almost half (47.3%) said they work most of the time. Why such a big difference though? One key is that many evaluations don’t clarify what the employee should do to improve. Without an action plan aligned with the feedback, the employee may not change their behaviors because they may not know how to or what to do differently.
CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about CoAdvantage’s ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.