10 tips for constructive criticism

We all know what happens when a person feels unjustifiably criticized by their boss... it’s never good. For your team, you can (and should) make it a policy to highlight successes—as well as what needs to be improved.

Today, feedback goes beyond positive reinforcement objectives and behaviours to adopt at work. It helps you bolster your team’s engagement, become a mentor  as well as improve your management acumen.  

Here are 10 tips to achieve this.

1. A Little Goes a Long Way

When you have something to say to a member of your team, say it immediately. You’ll reach your objective more directly than if you postpone the inevitable.

Don’t just prepare a list of points to discuss at the performance evaluation. 

2. Be Regular

Point out your team's successes because your day-to-day recognition will help motivate them. 

It’s also important to point out what your team needs to improve. This will enable them to adapt more quickly, which will contribute to overall performance. 

3. Be Positive

For criticism to be constructive, keep negative comments in check. 

Why? According to the Harvard Business Review , employees react six times more strongly to a negative interaction with their boss than to a positive one. They definitely see the glass as half empty and not half full. 

5:1 is the perfect ratio. Five positive comments to one negative.

Focus on what the person is doing well, rather than on what needs improvement. Make this person understand that he or she is an important part of the team. 

4. Be Clear

The more your feedback is specific and backed by concrete examples, the more points you’ll score. You therefore have an interest in making your comments clear and concise. 

This is even more true for negative feedback. By being specific and basing your comments on facts, the person won’t feel like they are being treated unfairly. 

5. The Right Channel

A team success must be celebrated as a team, not individually. Positive feedback has a snowball effect on a person’s motivation and sense of belonging. 

Conversely, make more sensitive comments in private to the person in question. By doing so behind closed doors, the person will not feel humiliated in front of his colleagues or employees.   

Une femme parle à ses collègues de travail

6. Be Fair and Realistic

When it comes to feedback, treat all team members equally. Don’t play favourites because this creates a climate of injustice that will negatively affect motivation and performance. 

Keep each employee’s objectives realistic. If you set impossible objectives, you will create a feeling of helplessness in your team. 

7. Stay Calm

Sometimes, it’s best to take a deep breath and avoid becoming emotional. Feedback works best when you are calm, cool and collected. 

8. Listen

Giving feedback is also an opportunity to learn more about the person in front of you. 

Attentive listening is key to improving a person’s behaviour or performance at work! Try to understand your team’s motivations, decisions and mindsets to find solutions that will bolster productivity. 

9. Openness

Instill a climate of openness and honesty during your discussions.

Your team members may even give you their feedback. Accept them graciously. Self-improvement is everyone's business!

10. Follow-up

Don’t let feedback go to waste. Positive or negative, it needs to be followed up on. 

Do so to make sure that your employee is able to reach his or her objectives. 

Keep notes of all your discussions and each person’s progress.

Successful Feedback  

Do you have your own tips for constructive criticism? If so, add them to this list for even greater impact!