Whether you’re receiving or giving criticism, it’s not the most enjoyable and most pleasant thing in the world. There is a proper and positive way to give constructive criticism, though, and it’s not as difficult as you might think. Here are some tips you need to remember when giving constructive criticism so as to avoid painting a bullseye on your back.
Are you in a position to give criticism?
If you manage a team and it’s time for their yearly appraisal, you are in the position to give feedback or criticism. If you’re a teacher, a coach, a mentor, or a supervisor, your feedback will help improve someone else’s performance. If you’re not any of these things and you just want to shut down a colleague for some mistake they did, your criticism is unwarranted and just stems from a need to be right. Some people won’t take criticism well, especially from people they think don’t have the right to give one. Before you hold a face-to-face discussion, make sure that you are the best person to give it.
The Feedback Sandwich Method
This is a tried and tested method in giving constructive criticism that will not make you look like a jerk of a boss. It’s quite easy to remember, too. Just remember PIP: Positive – Improvement – Positive, or Praise – Improve – Praise.
Start off by telling them their strengths and other positive points. Follow it up with the things that they failed to do or need to improve on. Then, finish it by repeating and stressing the good job that they did, the things that they could’ve done differently, the areas that they need to work on, and the positive results that they are sure to achieve if they do what they have to do. Just like a sandwich, you place the constructive criticism right between your opening and your closing. This sends out the message that you recognize the positive more than the negative. However, you’re not disregarding the negative, because that needs to change and improve. Closing it with their strengths and good points also ends the session on a positive note.
Be as specific as possible
Telling someone you didn’t like the report they submitted and that you want them to revise it hardly sounds like constructive criticism. What did you not like about it? Which parts would you like to be revised and improved?
Just like the Feedback Sandwich Method, you have to start by stating what you did like about the report and then name specifically what’s not so great about it. Good criticism is specific criticism. Avoid being subjective and break down your criticism in small, manageable key points so that they’re easier to remember.
Keep a professional demeanour
Don’t let your emotions get in the way. Remain calm and professional, even if it will be an emotional discussion. Remember that you should always be positive, objective, and specific. Your goal is always to help and improve a situation. Always deal with people with respect. Focus on the situation at hand and not the person. More importantly, never criticize just to humiliate, insult, belittle, or terrorize.