Live Webinar: Measuring Employee Engagement and Acting on Feedback (27th Nov, 2020)
+

5 Useful Tips On How To Give Constructive Criticism

6 min read
Last Updated on
constructive-criticism

Do you get misunderstood often by your employees while you give them suggestions or feedback? Do your recommendations get ignored often by your workers? As a manager, have you ever given constructive criticism that were overlooked?

If you have faced such issues with your employees, you might lack the skills of giving constructive criticism. You sure might have thought about providing constructive criticism but failed because you do not know the correct way?

“People seldom refuse help, if one offers it in the right way.” – A. C. Benson.

This guide speaks primarily about how someone can give constructive criticism to someone, specifically at the workplace. As a leader, if you think your workers can improve, do not hold your ideas back- rather, convey those criticisms constructively.

One needs to be vigilant about when is the right time to talk or share their good feedback with fellow employees. Choose the right moment, and share your ideas without denting your interpersonal relations. If not, you might come across as imposing because the person criticized might not have needed your advice at that moment.

If you want to learn the skill of giving constructive criticism, scroll below as we have listed helpful tips on- How to Give Constructive Criticism?

But first, let’s Understand-

What is Constructive Criticism?

constructive criticism(Noun)

Criticism is performed with a compassionate attitude towards the person qualified for criticism.

Constructive criticism is a useful method of giving criticism that gives explicit, significant recommendations. Instead of providing general feedback, a helpful criticism offers detailed suggestions on the most proficient way to make positive improvements. Constructive criticism is clear, forthright, and simple to put into action.

Leaders and managers can indeed implement this method of criticism to improve employees’ strategies to set and achieve their work goals. It helps to create a positive work environment eradicating toxicity and negativity. Employees feel confident to ask questions, seek assistance, and offer their feedback and ideas. When you simply give a criticism you only tend to impose, but when you criticize constructively you tend to have a communication for your employees to connect with you.

Below we have mentioned 5 useful tips to implement constructive criticism at work:

  1. Sandwich Method
  2. Focus on the situation on the person
  3. Don’t be vague, be specific
  4. Give recommendations on how to improve
  5. Don’t assume

Keep reading to know the tips in detail, how you can apply them and which method suits you best-

1. The Sandwich Method

The first method is also called PIP (Positive. Improvement. Positive). Popularly used in Toastmaster and corporate culture, the sandwich method can be adapted for better employee relations.

With the PIP, you can break your feedback into three segments.

  • Start off by pointing out your employee’s strengths- what you like for what they have done. Example- “I really liked what you did with the website in terms of look and feel.”

  • Secondly, focus on what they need to improve on- this is the criticism part. Example- “However, you can work a little bit more on improving the copy and the color palette.”

  • Lastly, you end the feedback on a positive note and praise- this builds trust and confidence amongst employees and enhances teamwork. Example- “Having said that, I really like the outcome, just a bit of change here and there as mentioned. Please work with the rest of the team, and surely you will come up with an amazing end product. All the best!”

Just like placing a patty between two buns, you tend to put criticisms between positive praises, and hence it is called the Sandwich Method. Though it is one of the methods of positive criticism some leaders find it negative and deceitful. They feel it obfuscates the person receiving constructive criticism as it consists both positive and negative comments. Although, for some leaders it has worked fairly well, you can choose whether to implement this or not as per your workforce behavior.

2. Focus on the situation, not the person

As a leader, you must always focus on the situation and not the person while giving constructive criticism. Implying this method, one can make sure to eliminate the chances of miscommunication between them and their employees.

The trick to using this method is to use “I” language. Using phrases like “I think,” “I feel,” “I would like to add,” makes sure that the person receiving the feedback understands it’s about the situation or behavior and not them as a person.

Let us show you how to use the “I” language with an example- “I loved your idea for the new product placement ad. However, I feel the plan and execution could be more detailed featuring the product; it will only give better clarity to our audience about the product and the brand.”

Sounds smooth, precise, and diligent, Isn't It? You won’t sound disrespecting or imposing if you implement this method.

3. Don’t be vague, be specific.

The third tip to follow while giving constructive criticism is specificity. The more specific the suggestion is more the actionability. Do not make blanket statements; instead, list out the objections in detail; this way, there is a good communication scope between you and your workers.

Here we have listed an example of vague and specific criticism and mentioned ways to be specific.

  • Vague Criticism- “Hey, Alice, I would like you to write an article on leadership.”

  • Specific Criticism- “Hey Alice, if you’re done working on the leadership qualities article, I would like you to write another article on Leadership Principles. Please let me know when you can start and keep me in the loop.”

The vague comment is very confusing, as leadership is a vast area to cover. But when you read the specific comment, it states clarity. If you implement this method- your employee tends to understand the specific requirement, helping them work on a particular task than being lost and jittered.

If you’re wondering how to be specific while giving suggestions, we will tell you-

  • Your focus must be on objective points and not subjective points.
  • You must use key points and fragment your feedback into a pointer for clarity.
  • Provide your workers with ample examples for each requirement.

In this way, you can implement specificity and avoid vagueness while giving feedback or criticism. Using this constructive criticism method helps employees understand their work requirements better and don’t feel stressed about what and how the work needs to be done.

4. Give recommendations on how to improve.

After applying the methods mentioned above successfully, you can slowly move towards recommending the necessary improvements your employees must focus on.

First and foremost, your recommendations will sound positive and promising.
Depending on your employees’ behavior, you must be selective by giving suggestions on how and where they need to improve as criticism can be interpreted differently.

Giving specific recommendations on improvements will help your employees understand you and your expectations better. Positive feedback enhances communication and teamwork.

Example of how to give recommendations for improvement-

For instance, you’re giving feedback on a presentation.

  • Weak recommendation- “The presentation is too long and boring, make it shorter.” Such recommendations are not helpful. This denotes rudeness and bossy behavior.

  • Positive Recommendation- “I feel the presentation is good but can be shortened as the pointers seem too lengthy, what do you feel? Try to make it like just 2 pointers each with a clear message. In that way, the presentation becomes more impactful” If recommendations are positive and conversational, you refrain from being imposing and bossy. Such suggestions help them improve as you provide a rationale and specificity.

5. Do not assume

Assumptions can cause a lot of trouble and distress in the workplace, especially with comments and feedback. As a leader or a manager, you must not assume instead observe.

Give suggestions or recommendations only when you know the facts about that particular subject or person. Do not merely assume. Wrong assumptions not only bring your employees into bad light but also makes you look bad. Hence one must avoid assuming.

We have mentioned an example to highlight the difference between an assumption and a critique for a better understanding.

  • Criticism- “The speaker seemed to be mediocre; he appeared nervous and was not able to communicate well with the audience.”

  • Assumption- “The speaker was bad; he did not have public speaking experience.” This is an assumption and derogatory. Some speakers are seasonal and might get nervous as audiences differ from place to place. To assume someone is inexperienced because they’re nervous is pompous behavior.

Conclusion-

We thank you for staying with us until the end. We hope this piece helped you realize the importance of constructive criticism, and you’d surely apply it in the workplace. These tips will help you in giving positive feedback and maintain a healthy professional relationship with your workers. Do let us know which method of constructive criticism was helpful for you.

This article is written by Gautam Gayan. He works as a Content Marketer at Vantage Circle. Apart from being a passionate content creator for HR services and employee engagement, Gautam is a theatre enthusiast, an avid reader and an asipring poet. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com