Tips for Criticizing Effectively

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 person.
  • Make criticism specific. Instead of saying "You always miss deadlines," say "You missed the March 15 deadline for your report." 
  • 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 fair.
  • 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 feelings.
  • 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.

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