Tips for Criticizing Effectively
Chicago Constructive criticism can actually be a positive force
in the work place, one that fixes errors, solves problems, improves
internal communications and helps to clarify expectations for both
employer and employee. Such is the opinion of personnel experts
from Highlights, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, as
reprinted from The Working Communicator.
Below, the Chicago-based newsletter offers 12 guidelines to keep in mind for the next time you need to criticize and employee.
- Identify the behavior that you want to criticize. Then, be sure
to direct your criticism at the action, not at the
- Make criticism specific. Instead of saying "You always miss
deadlines," say "You missed the March 15 deadline for your
- Be sure the behavior you are criticizing can be changed.
Personality traits, foreign accents and physical characteristics
cannot always be changed. Be sure that your criticisms are
- Use "I" and "we" to stress that you want to work out the
problem together, rather than making threats.
- Make sure the other person understands the reason for your
criticism, as well as how you want the behavior changed in order to
prevent future problems.
- Don't belabor the point. Be short and sweet; avoid giving
lectures, which are generally less effective, and which employees
may "tune out."
- Offer incentives for changed behavior. Offer to help the person
correct the problem.
- Don't set a tone of anger or sarcasm. Both are
counterproductive to your desired outcome.
- Show the person that you understand his or her
- If you are putting your criticism in writing, cool off before
writing the critical letter or memo. Be sure only the person it is
intended for sees it.
- Always start off by saying something good. Praise will make the
criticism more palatable.
- At the end of the conversation, reaffirm your support and confidence in the person.