Management Insight: 10 Tips for Delivering (Constructive) Criticism by Dr. Barton Goldsmith for Bankers Online

by Michael Josephson on May 1, 2012

Excerpt - For the entire article see http://www.bankersonline.com/operations/bg_criticism.html

  1. Take an honest look at where you’re coming from. If there’s some anger or resentment toward the team member, then you’re probably not the best person to offer them advice.
  2. Start and end with a compliment. Find something good to say about your team member, this will help him or her take in your advice. At the end of the conversation, it will help your team member to feel that they aren’t a failure or that you’re not angry.
  3. Listen to your own voice. The tone of your voice can communicate as much (if not more) than the words you choose. If there is an edge to your voice it will be harder for your team member to take in your request. 
  4. Eye contact is important It helps both of you stay focused and it communicates sincerity. It will also help you stay on topic. If you’re working on the computer or busy with something, stop what you’re doing and look at the person you’re speaking to.
  5. Choose the best time and place.Never give criticism in public, in front of another person, or when you or your team member may be too tired or hungry to deal with it appropriately. If you’re physically uncomfortable you may not be in the best frame of mind to talk about a difficult subject.
  6. Do your best to avoid hurting your anyone’s feelings. Use a softened start-up followed by a gentle suggestion. For example you could say, “I really like the way to talk to your supervisor, you would get a better response from your team members if you spoke to them in the same way.
  7. Talk about the behavior not the person. Feedback is not about insulting someone’s behavior, it’s about telling him or her how to be better. For example, you would never say to a child, “You are a mistake.” Instead you would say, “You made a mistake.”
  8. Use gentle humor if possible. If you can deliver criticism in a light-hearted manner, it will be received in a much more positive way. Humor doesn’t diminish the seriousness of the feedback you are giving, it actually helps the person receiving the direction to open up and take it in.
  9. Work with your team member to improve the situation.This will help him or her to make the appropriate adjustments sooner rather than later. It will also strengthen your bond as a team. Making changes is easier if you have someone supporting you.
  10. Don’t harp. Once you have asked for what you need from your team member, let it go. If you have to ask someone to do something four times, I can promise you that the person in question has heard what you have to say. If you’ve reached an agreement or agreed to disagree, let it go and move on, holding a grudge is a waste of time.

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