Providing constructive criticism is an important part of a management role. Done effectively, this kind of feedback provides an employee with a realistic appraisal of his performance and the information and skills necessary to do the job well.
Unfortunately, the word "criticism" is usually interpreted as something negative. However, Webster's Online Dictionary defines "constructive criticism" as "valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments." Using that as a working definition immediately eases the burden of preparing and delivering this kind of criticism. It is not all bad news.
To prepare for a meeting with the employee, the manager or supervisor should follow these steps:
• Review the purpose for giving constructive criticism in this particular workplace situation. Does the employee need to improve his knowledge of certain policies or his skills in operating equipment? Or, does he have to improve his communication with colleagues? Whatever the purpose, the desired result should be clear in the manager's head.
• Review any documentation that is pertinent to the criticism. This could include inaccurate paperwork, e-mail complaints, or even a phone message. It is important to have all the facts in order.
• Note any positive points to share with the employee. For example, the manager is sincerely impressed with the size of a client order even though the delivery instructions were not accurate.
• Identify the points of the situation where changes need to be made. For example, it is necessary to follow all the specific steps outlined in the procedure manual so the order is delivered by the deadline.
• Prepare a plan for corrective action that will resolve the issue. This might be as simple as reading over corporate policies and returning for a discussion of them, or as formal as attending supplementary training in using the new, complex piece of machinery. It might even be as sensitive as rebuilding a relationship with the administrative support person in the work unit. The manager will have to decide what she is prepared to offer to support the employee in following this plan.
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The manager should arrange for the meeting to take place in a private space with no interruptions, remembering the following points:
• Focus on the work, not the person. It is important to focus this constructive criticism on the employee's performance, not on his personal characteristics.
• Begin with positive feedback. It is always a good idea to begin and, if possible, end a session of constructive criticism by mentioning work that is being done well. However, do not over-emphasize the positive points if there is a serious deficiency that has to be overcome. This could detract from the seriousness of the issue.
• Be specific. For the criticism to be truly constructive, the manager needs to be specific about the errors or misjudgments that were made, the steps to be taken to correct the situation and the expected results.
• Be realistic. The plan and the timelines for corrective action must be realistic and achievable. Also, the focus must be on areas of work over which the employee has control.
• Be businesslike. The tone of delivery for constructive criticism should be matter-of-fact, not haranguing, sarcastic or demeaning.
• Listen to and watch the employee. Make sure the employee has the opportunity to talk about his perspective on this constructive criticism, to ask questions to clarify what you are saying, and even to offer ideas on corrective action. The manager must take the time to listen to understand the employee's position.
• Agree on the next steps. Before the meeting ends, the manager and employee should agree to the corrective action. If the employee is having difficulty accepting this criticism, constructive or not, it might be best to give him time to think about everything and schedule another meeting for the next day.
The manager or supervisor should arrange a follow-up meeting with the employee even if it appears that the plan for corrective action has achieved the desired results:
• Schedule a follow-up meeting. There should be at least one follow-up meeting, maybe more depending on the complexity and timeline of the corrective action. This is necessary to close the issue. Otherwise, the employee could be wondering if he really did all that was expected of him.
• Prepare for the meeting. The manager should be sure she is up to date on the employee's progress in that particular area of work.
• Give specific feedback. Once again, it is necessary to be specific in giving feedback on the employee's progress in improving his job performance. This shows that the manager was serious about the original constructive criticism and is serious about the follow-up.
• End on a positive note. If the corrective action plan was a good one, there should have been progressing and the manager will be able to stress the positive aspects of the work being done. If there are still difficulties to be overcome, the manager can also use the progress to encourage further improvement.
Delivering necessary constructive criticism is not an easy job for a manager or supervisor. However, careful preparation, clear delivery, and sensitivity to the employee's position will result in improved performance.
Receiving feedback is a regular part of day-to-day communication in the workplace. It can range from the simple acknowledgment of a message to a change in behavior to a resounding silence. Following these guidelines for a better understanding of the dynamics of feedback will help both management and staff communicate more effectively.
Feedback in communication is the response, verbal or nonverbal, to a message received. It is the message that the receiver sends back to the person who initiated the communication; a message that reflects his understanding of the original message. It closes the communication loop.
Unfortunately, many people have come to use the actual word "feedback" as a negative concept. It certainly is not meant to be only negative. Constructive feedback in the workplace should be well-balanced between identifying areas for improvement and giving positive reinforcement for a job well done.
The idea of workplace feedback is often associated with actual job performance, whether or not the employee met all expectations in production, or whatever performance measure is used. This kind of feedback may be received in a formal performance review interview or casual conversation with a manager or colleague.
There are several key points to remember when receiving feedback in the workplace, whether it is formal or informal, positive or negative, from management or a colleague. Review these guidelines and put them into practice. The benefits of more effective communication will be obvious immediately.
Determine the purpose of the feedback being received. Does the manager expect a behavior change or is he recognizing good performance? Is a colleague simply showing appreciation for the time spent helping her correct an accounting error? The purpose of the feedback can determine the response.
• Check attitude. It is important to recognize that constructive criticism about job performance is a personal attack. It should be viewed as part of the learning experience.
• Use effective listening techniques. It is important to listen to understand the message, especially if it appears to be negative and critical. This is not the time to interrupt, offer excuses, or start defining actions and positions. Listen carefully to the real intent and meaning of the message. Watch the body language to make sure it is consistent with the words being spoken.
• Reflect the message to the sender. Repeat the message as it is being understood and feed it back to the sender. This provides an opportunity to clear up misunderstandings before they become more complicated.
• Clarify the message. Ask questions, if necessary, to clarify. This is particularly important if there is an immediate need to correct a mistake or change a procedure. Do not proceed on assumptions.
• Admit any errors. If a mistake has been made, an immediate, sincere apology and corrective action are the most appropriate response.
• Accept praise graciously. The positive, encouraging feedback that is an indicator of a healthy workplace is often taken for granted. However, anyone who receives positive feedback should not only accept it graciously but also make sure to share it with any colleagues who were involved in the work.
• Make the most of positive feedback. It is not a reason to sit back and relax. Use positive feedback as a motivator to reinforce and strengthen what is already being done well.
Effective feedback is an important element of communication in the workplace. Learning how to receive feedback and use it to improve performance is learning how to make the most of the message.
About the author:
Timothy M. Wilson works as an essay writer at essaywritingservice.nyc. He is interested in self-development and spiritual awakening. So he likes keeping up with modern tendencies of personal development. It helps him plan and have time to do everything.
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