Sometimes dishing out criticism is an important and necessary part of running a successful business. The key is doing it right.
The Four Steps to Criticize Effectively
- Focus. Find one, maybe two, key points and stick to them. Without key focal points, it can be easy to ramble; but, if you let your thoughts trail off, your employee’s attention will trail off as well.
- Be Polite. Chances are if you’ve found something that needs to be criticized, you might not be in the best mood. But keep your cool! It might feel good to rant and rave, but it most likely will not get results (or respect). However, being “polite” does not mean being “wishy-washy.” You’re dishing out criticism! Focus.
- Keep It Short. No one likes hearing criticism and a lengthy criticism is even less desirable.
- Know Who You’re Talking To. This should be an obvious one, but, treat your employees with respect: Know their name. Don’t be the employer that calls their staff members “Buddy,” “Tiger,” or “Sport.”
Some Things Not To Do
- Don’t make it personal. Focus on facts only.
- Don’t purposely embarrass your employee. That’s just mean.
- Don’t wait ‘til the last minute. Be timely!—If your employee has done something incorrectly, it doesn’t benefit anyone to put off telling them about it.
- Don’t criticize your employees in public. Save public communications for when you’re praising them.
- Don’t ignore what your employees have to say. Effective communication is a two-way street and your employee probably has valuable feedback.
- Don’t use “need to” phrases. Saying to your employee “You need to turn your work in on time and you need to keep your work area clean” isn’t direct enough of a message—don’t imply criticism, just give it.
- Don’t beat around the bush. Be direct.
- Don’t be completely negative. Criticism can hit an employee pretty hard sometimes and you don’t want to tear them down—they’re only human!—or de-motivate them. Try to throw in a compliment or two (without being wishy-washy). If you don’t have anything nice to say about your employee, then they probably shouldn’t be working for you!
Criticism as a Positive Action
As a business owner, you know how important your employees whether they work for you in person or online really are. It isn’t fun to dish out criticisms, but sometimes it’s necessary. It doesn’t have to be a completely negative experience. Try to make your criticisms constructive and use them as a learning experience.