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Part of being a manager or leader is providing feedback to your team. This may be informal during daily interactions or formal during performance reviews or evaluations. It can be difficult to critique others, but it is a necessary part of helping them to become a stronger employee and also supporting business success. Giving constructive criticism that focuses on areas of strength while providing feasible solutions for areas of improvement can make discussions more effective.

  • Start with the positive

Address areas that the employee is doing well in and praise them for accomplishments. You can point out how they have grown and improved, a project they did particularly well, or strengths that they have capitalized on. Starting out on a positive note shows the employee that they are valued and recognizes their effort.

  • Focus on “to dos” rather than “to don’ts”

When identifying areas of improvement, don’t make it an attack on what they are doing wrong. Telling them everything they shouldn’t be doing is not constructive and does not lead to productive results. Rather focus on things that they should be doing which will improve their performance and productivity. For example, instead of saying, “Don’t be late,” you could say, “Come to work on time or early.”

When you are giving feedback, focus on specific ways they can improve. Telling them to “stop making careless errors” does not really explain what they are doing wrong or how to fix it. But if you emphasized, “When creating a PowerPoint presentation, you should check for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and meaning,” this offers specifics that they should be aware of. It offers key points for improving their presentation and reducing the risk of making careless errors by double-checking.

Focusing on “to dos” puts on a more positive spin and addresses how they can correct things that they are presumably not doing without directly stating them in a condescending way. It sets clear expectations for how something should be done. People are often more receptive to clear suggestions that add value rather than vague or negative statements.

  • Recognize improvement

Identify areas where they have noticeably improved. This could be as a result of previous discussions where they have gone on to apply what they were told. Recognize their efforts and ability to make positive changes. It can boost employee morale to know that these things have not gone unnoticed. It is important to provide ongoing feedback and recognition to keep employees motivated and continually improving.

Constructive criticism provides realistic feedback and expectations that employees can act upon. It does not belittle them or focus on the negative. When executed correctly, it can build respect, promote professional development, and create a more productive environment. Before you conduct your next employee review or start to give feedback on a project, consider your approach and the message that you are sending. The professionals at JP Kantor Consulting can teach you how to take a more positive approach and give constructive criticism that employees can benefit from. Contact us today to take advantage of our wide range of professional services to enhance your leadership and management skills.