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How To Give (And Take) Constructive Criticism

If you are an Manager, Supervisor, Team leader or any type of boss there will be times when you will have to give feedback to employees. Sometimes the feedback will be positive and sometimes not, so you might like to consider how it is delivered.

Here are a few tips to assist you when giving constructive criticism.

Be Specific
You need to ensure you tell the person exactly what requires improvement. Just saying ‘that presentation was rubbish’ is not going to help. You’ll be more help if you are specific and use suggestions such as ‘I’ve always found that less information on a slide ensures your audience has a better chance of understanding what you are trying to say’ and ‘speaking a little slower ensures everyone can follow your message’.

Don’t get personal and be polite
Everyone is busy and stressed, but racing in and saying “I hate the way you did…….” is not the best way to communicate feedback. Think about how you would feel if someone said that to you. Ensure you talk about the work and not the person and be polite.

A very simple approach to use when you need to give constructive criticism is P.I.P. or positive improvement positive.

When you need to provide feedback which is required so that an employee can improve, you may wish to use P.I.P. It includes these 3 simple steps:

  1. Take time to consider what you really like about what they done and communicate it to them first
  2. Then give feedback on what can be improved and offer suggestions
  3. At the end of the conversation ensure you restate the positive aspects of their work again

Thinking from your employees’ point of view, at least they will know that it’s only certain aspects they need to improve upon and they won’t be left on a definite low.

Giving constructive criticism isn’t just one communication. Ensure you follow up and give praise where praise is due. This will be a great way to acknowledge your employee’s improvement.

How to take it
Firstly, stop – don’t say anything. Give yourself time to think about what is being said and don’t react defensively.

It is really easy to be hurt or take things personally, but in the main constructive criticism is given so you can make positive change. Put it in context, it’s about your work and not you as a person. Own it and accept that no one is perfect.

Make sure your superior has been specific, so you know what you need to work on. You might want to take notes, so your boss knows you are listening. Ensure you are clear on the feedback and you may need to ask questions or ask for suggestions.

Initiate a follow up with your boss to see if you are on track when you have improved your work.

Giving or taking constructive criticism doesn’t need to be such a negative experience, if both parties understand each other’s perspective and it is given with good intention.

THE LAST WORD – If you are just a colleague, don’t offer constructive criticism unless you have been asked for your help by your fellow staffer!