Let’s face it, giving criticism isn’t exactly fun. It can be uncomfortable, awkward and all-around unpleasant.
Yet, leaders face the unwelcome burden every day, as they try to improve, transform and encourage their teams to reach their fullest potentials and produce exceptional results.
Effective criticism straddles a fine line between being helpful and discouraging. While it’s not always possible to control how your employee will perceive your criticism, you can take certain measures to improve your communication, so you can “criticize” kindly.
Feedback isn’t for the sake of boosting your ego or bashing another. The point of constructive criticism is to transform unwanted behavior into desirable change; if your motivation is anything less, your heart may not be in the right place.
Don’t make the criticism personal, after all it is strictly business. Make sure your employee understands your feedback isn’t a reflection of them as a person.
For example, “you’re messy” is less effective than, “I know you could produce better results if you kept your workspace more organized.”
Give your feedback, then allow your employee the opportunity to make changes. If you’re concerned about their timeliness in the office, express your concern, then leave it up to them to be more punctual.
Express your criticisms through the perspective of your observations — explain how their behavior is impacting the business, clients or team. Give your employee space to correct the problem themselves, otherwise…
Some employees need a little extra guidance, and while you may think your expectations are crystal clear, the case may not be so for your employee.
In tandem with your criticism, let them know how you’d like to see things improve.
Be specific in how their behavior should change, as well as why it is important — how will their improved behavior impact the business? Laying out your expectations will improve the likelihood of improvement.
Negative feedback can be hard to receive, so why not add a little sugar to your spice? A tried and true method of feedback-giving is the “sandwich” approach, which is offering a compliment, followed by your criticism and rounded out with yet another compliment.
The “sandwich” approach can help lighten the blow of the criticism and let your employee know you see the good they’re doing, as well as what can be improved.
Simply put: Compliment + Criticism + Compliment
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