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How to Provide Contructive Criticism to Your Employees
It is very difficult to give anyone criticism. As a manager, we never know if the employee is going to take it as a cheap shot or that we just don't like them. Constructive criticism is supposed to be that; constructive. It should never be a way to attack an employee and should never make an employee feel bad or angry. With the different personalities in the work place, there are some things that a manager should do to make the criticism an efficient tool.
Privacy is important
It is important to have the meeting with the employee away from other ears. You don't want to deliver criticism in the middle of a start up meeting or when the employee is working around a lot or even a few other people. It is best that these situations be as private as possible. Have the employee come to your office, use an office that is currently vaccant, the location's conference room, etc.
Create a positive atmosphere
You want to make sure that the employee isn't completely uncomfortable. Any kind of meeting with the "boss" makes an employee a little uncomfortable, but you don't want to come across as unfeeling and mean. So don't jump right into your concerns. Open the conversation with positives. This employee is doing some things really well. Even if they are not the most productive employee, they still possess some quality traits. Maybe they are always smiling and making the work environment more pleasant for others, they are really good at keeping their work area very organized and clean, they met or surpassed goals that were set out, etc. This is not about setting a person up for failure. You want the employee to understand that they are valuable within the company.
Be clear and to the point
Make sure that the criticism that you give is very clear and to the point. You do not want to be hazy about what you are talking about. This can come across as you trying to fish for something negative to say. The employee should know exactly what you are concerned with and why. How does it impact the company, their current job and their co-workers?
Also make sure that you allow the employee to speak. This is a discussion and not just a presentation on your part. Make sure that it doesn't become a debate. You are not trying to get the employee to defend themselves.
Solutions should be a two way street
Ask the employee what they think should happen to improve these areas of concern, on both their own part and your own. Often an employee needs additional resources from you. Maybe this is in the form of additional training, a certain tool, replacement of something on the job, etc. Offer up some of your own solutions and have a discussion about it. At the end, come up with a solution that you both agree upon. The solution needs to be something that would be effective and efficient. Agree to the parts that you are each responsible for. As a manager, it is part of your job to make sure that your employees succeed.
Follow up and follow up again
Be sure to follow up in a timely manner. If there is something that you are responsible for, be sure to get that taken care of as soon as possible. As for the employee, check up on him/her to be sure that they are staying on task. There may be additional assistance that they need in completing these tasks that was not thought about previously. Follow up on what is needed and how the employee is doing multiple times throughout a long period of time, even after the goals are met. You want to make sure that your employees stay as productive as they had achieved and you want to make sure that they are doing alright.
It is often difficult for managers to give contructive criticism to their employees. Often times when the situation is not approached properly, it can come across as a personal attack on the employee, instead of something to aid in their development. As a manager it is part of your job to make sure that your employees are working productively and that their personal goals are met as well. An employee that is satisfied with life and their job are going to be better workers overall.