Criticizing employees with care
Criticism is can be an effective tool or a negative weapon. Managers can use it constructively to build up an employee, or destructively to tear them down. Criticism, when used correctly, can result in growth and a healthy challenge for an employee. Unfortunately, when abused, criticism can frustrate and bring an employee into despair.
- Criticize to help. Criticism can help an employee understand a problem and help to fix it, or it can cause them to experience feelings of fear, resentment and anger. The ability to use criticism as a positive tool is an extremely important skill for a successful manager to master. A person in the position to criticize has a great responsibility, therefore it is imperative that managers know the most appropriate and effective ways to give criticism. Destructive criticism causes a lose-lose situation, just as constructive criticism can bring about a win-win one. How a manager gives employees criticism affects their own chances for success. After all, criticism is an integral part of managing others. If a manager can’t criticize effectively, then chances are they won’t last long in a management position.
- Provide solutions. There is no place for criticism unless it clearly describes a problem and provides solutions on how to improve. Criticism that simply states what is wrong is not only unhelpful, it is counterproductive as it is degrading to the employee. Criticism without solutions will destroy an employee’s self-confidence and deplete their initiative, diminishing their potential to contribute.How many managers have you heard criticizing employees without offering solutions? All too often, inappropriate, personal attacks are made by inept managers. Cursing or yelling at an employee does not give that employee helpful advice on how to do better.Criticism has a time and place. Unlike praise, which should be given both in public and in private, criticism should never be given in public. It decreases an employee’s dignity in front of other employees. Your employees need their dignity to perform effectively, so be sure you not only give solutions with your criticism, but that you also do so in private.
- Let them know you care. One of the very best techniques to use when giving constructive criticism is to serve it with a slice of praise. When criticism is handed out with praise, it puts the problem in perspective. After all, you aren’t criticizing everything they do, otherwise they no longer would be employed by you.Share with them the qualities and performances you appreciate about them. Let them know you value them as employees, but that there are things that need to be worked on. Then be specific and clear about what you expect. Avoid anger, name calling and other inappropriate, ineffective criticisms that is only juvenile and hurtful.
- Use criticism wisely. Criticism is a tool for improving performance, but it is only effective when used correctly. Criticism needs to be shared privately, and should be provided with clarity and specificity about solutions in order to be useful. You will win when you make your employees feel like winners.