Giving and receiving criticism is one of the most challenging activities in the workplace.
Many don’t take criticism well and this can always lead to arising conflicts at the workplace.
Giving criticism, therefore, is one of the most essential skills a leader needs to learn.
By learning how to give criticism, a leader lets the team member know that that criticism was necessary so that certain improvements can be made.
So, how can a leader give positive criticism to his teammates?
Use The Feedback Sandwich
This is one of the most effective ways of giving criticism to employees.
A feedback sandwich involves starting with positive feedback, a negative one, and ending with a positive one.
For example, when giving feedback, a leader can say, “What you did with A is very good” then follow it up with, “But you should improve with B”. The feedback sandwich then concludes with. “Finally, C was very good as well”.
By using a feedback sandwich, the criticism received does not feel that everything they did is being criticized.
They feel that some things were done right although there is a place that they need to improve.
This sandwich helps them not feel attacked and be open to receiving criticism and work on improving in areas where they went wrong.
Focus On The Situation, Not The Person
When giving criticism, it is essential to focus on the situation and not the person.
This helps the person receiving criticism not feel attacked.
For example, it is important to say, “Your presentation lacked a few elements and maybe next time you can improve on this?” This kind of statement focuses on the presentation, not the person.
However, when you say, “You always give presentations that are not well researched,” you are focusing on the person and this makes them feel attacked as an individual.
Focusing on the situation makes the criticism less personal and the person being criticized is likely to listen and be open to change when they don’t feel attacked as a person.
When giving criticism, be specific on what areas are under criticism.
When you generalize information, an individual might not understand what is being criticized and therefore don’t know where to improve.
For example, instead of saying, “your presentation was not well done”, be specific and say “Your presentation was too short and I felt you did not research your references well”.
This kind of specific feedback will help the person being criticized understand what area is being criticized and work on improving on this specific area.
Such criticism is likely to yield more positive results than generalized criticism.
Give Recommendations On The Way Forward
The whole reason a leader gives positive criticism to a teammate is so that they can improve.
To help this person improve, therefore, it is important that you give them recommendations on the way forward.
This way, you can help this person work on how they can do better in the future.
For example, make suggestions such as “In the future, consider researching for your presentation and getting more accurate sources.
If you have a problem with this, you can come to me and I can guide you through it”.
This way, you have played the role of a leader well by letting the team member know that they can come to you to help them perform better in the future.
Not only have you given positive criticism, but you have also offered a valid and viable solution for their future.
Don’t Make Assumptions
It is your role as a leader to try to understand why this person behaved the way they did or why they fell short in their performance.
As a leader, don’t assume that they simply do not care about their results or their performance.
Don’t assume that they did not meet the goal because they are not good at what they do.
When offering feedback, therefore, ensure you ask questions about why there was a failure in performance so that you can understand and try to help them through.
Consider The Right Timing
Giving and receiving criticism is a sensitive issue especially to the receiver.
It is therefore important to ensure that the timing is right when you are giving feedback.
For example, if a person just made a presentation, it may not always be a good idea to criticize them in front of their colleagues.
At this time, they may be too concerned about not looking bad in front of others that they pay little or no heed to the information you are giving them.
However, you can find a time when they are alone or when they are feeling more confident and call them aside and give them feedback about their work.
The right kind of timing will ensure that the person does not feel attacked and they will listen and take advice on how they can improve in their work.
The Destiny Team