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How to handle constructive criticism


Simple praise is nice, but generally worthless in many situations as it can fall out of your mouth almost habitually and not therefore be specific to the person or situation in question. What employees need is constructive criticism, or corrective feedback, to help them improve their performance. If a manager is able to understand what the employee needs, and have the finesse to provide this constructive criticism in a way that leaves them feeling motivated and engaged as opposed to hurt or embarrassed, then both parties will flourish. It is not an easy situation to be in for a manager, as despite knowing the importance of feedback it is rarely a comfortable conversation when suggestions for improvement are made. There are, however, some simple things that a manager can keep in mind to make the discussion as productive as possible.

The first thing a manager needs to do when in the situation that constructive feedback may be necessary, is to ensure that they are totally clear on the facts of the situation. Examples are always useful, and the reviewer needs to be certain that they are focussing on the situation as opposed to the employee themselves. Saying this though, it is worth considering the employee before the discussion and seeing whether you can identify the root cause of a situation, especially if the behaviour is out of character. A manager should also go into the corrective feedback session with an idea of how they would want the situation to be resolved, as well as ensuring that the meeting doesn’t purely discuss any short fallings or areas for improvement, but highlights the parts of the role that are being performed well.

When it comes to having the conversation, the manager must ensure that it is in a private location and cannot be overheard – it is a delicate situation and should never take place in front of the team. The purpose of the discussion should be brought up early on, although again make sure to mention the successes and positives of the employee as well. The conversation should focus on the facts and any affect that was caused by the behaviour in debate, with a clear focus too on open listening back to the employee and ensuring that you understand what their point of view is.

If a manger can invite the employee to come up with their own solution and plan to move forwards then this will be much better for both parties. As long as this has clear actions and is openly discussed with two-way feedback, the fact that the employee is putting together their own next step plan will provide added buy-in right from the offset. With regular reviews and discussions scheduled after the feedback has been given and plan put into place, progress can be tracked and further discussions take place if appropriate.

Hopefully you have found our insights here useful, but remember if you have any questions or want to talk to one of our team then please do get in touch with us here at Forward Prospects.

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