Regardless of the reason for feedback in the workplace, improving and keeping open communication is key. If an employee is displaying some concerning behaviors/actions, then providing them with constructive criticism can drastically help them. The idea of constructive criticism can cause anxiety and worry within itself. Receiving it is never easy, but having to be the one giving the feedback can be even more stressful. However, knowing what to say and how to approach your feedback can actually change the way in which the conversation will go. Read below to find out ways you can constructively give constructive criticism and have a positive outcome.
1. Have a Private Conversation
Constructive criticism should not be done in public. As the saying goes “praise in public, criticize in private” and that rings true (in most cases) in the workplace as well. When constructive criticism is done in a public setting the receiver may be more concerned with the actions of everyone around them, and not the actual feedback. However, when done in private – the only thing the receiver must focus on- is you, which allows you to more successfully get your message across.
2. Prepare the Recipient for Feedback
If you feel like this will help, one way to address a conversation that may need some prefacing is acknowledging the situation ahead of time. For example, if someone is always late with their portion of a team project you could address the situation like: “I want to set up a one-on-one meeting with you about project efficiency”. This allows them to not feel completely blindsided by the conversation when it happens.
3. Use The “Sandwich” Method
If you haven’t heard of the sandwich method, it’s a more productive way to approach a situation where feedback is required. The way to use the “sandwich” method, is to address an improvement between two positives. Another term for this is the P.I.P method: Positive – Improvement – Positive. The idea of starting and ending with a compliment/praise, allows the person to know you still appreciate or acknowledge their efforts. That way the suggestion or criticism doesn’t seem as harsh.
4. Focus on What Can Be Changed
When you start to target the person and their faults, chances are the only reaction you’ll get is defensiveness or hurt feelings. Instead, focus on the situation. For example, avoid saying of saying something like “You’re always late with your portion of team projects”. And instead say something like, “Let’s set some deadlines of when things need to be accomplished so we can get them done on time”. This is encouraging and problem solves, instead of dwelling on the issue.
5. Avoid “You-statements”
The importance of avoiding “you “statements is crucial. When giving someone constructive feedback, avoiding “you” statements is the difference between having a positive conversation, vs. a negative one. Instead of “you don’t ever do this” say “I feel stressed when the workload isn’t more dispersed between the team”. This ends up being more of a reflection on how it makes you feel, rather than pointing fingers.
6. Be Aware of Your Tone
How you address something is almost just as important as what you say. If you want to come across as helpful and encouraging with suggestions – it’s best to come from a place of helpfulness and kindness. If you come from a place of annoyance or frustration, it will be perceived in a negative light. So try to be aware of your body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.
7. Be Conscious of the Goal
The idea behind giving constructive criticism is to provide a different outcome of what you are looking to achieve. The intentions should be to encourage and make the situation better for both parties. So be conscious of that when you are addressing a situation and know the intentions behind the conversation.