Every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration. Constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought.

~ Margaret Chase Smith

Part of your job as a manager is to review your employee’s performance. Knowing no one is perfect, this means sometimes you have to give your employees constructive criticism. As well-meaning as your criticism is, chances are the employee may not be completely receptive. In fact, a defensive employee receiving criticism could escalate an already tenuous situation. Following are tips on giving your employees constructive criticism without making the situation worse.

Remember the Constructive Criticism Sandwich

Constructive criticism should be like a delicious sandwich… a slice of soft, fluffy bread, filled with meat, then finished off with another slice of soft, fluffy bread. The soft, fluffy bread is a compliment. Start with telling your employee something that they’re doing right. Everyone likes to hear that they’re doing things right. Starting off with a compliment also let’s your employee know that you do appreciate their efforts and starts the meeting off on a positive note.

The meat of the sandwich is the constructive criticism. This is where you talk about the areas where you’d like to see improvement. Of course, you have to finish with that second piece of fluffy bread – another compliment. This ends the meeting positively, and again reassures the employee that although they have items you’d like them to improve on, you do recognize the areas where they are doing well.

Be Respectful When Giving Constructive Criticism

When delivering the meat of that sandwich, keep your comments respectful. Watch the tone you take. Sometimes criticism, even in its most constructive form, can feel condescending to the employee being critiqued. Keep your comments directed toward actions they can perform to improve the situation. Don’t simply tell them what they’re doing wrong; tell them how to do things right!

Tie Constructive Criticism to the Organizational Mission

To further improve employee buy-in of the changes you’d like made, based on the constructive criticism, tie it into the organizational mission. It’s one of the keys of giving your employees constructive criticism. Don’t simply tell your employee that you want X done differently; explain to them why it’s important to the organization to have it done differently. Then, go one step further and show them how supporting the organizational mission and helping the organization succeed will, in turn, help them succeed.

About Colleen Kettenhofen, Leadership Expert

CREDENTIALS: Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace and employee management expert, award-winning corporate trainer, and conference keynote speaker. A media veteran, she has appeared on numerous radio shows around the country and has written more than 40 popular articles on diverse workplace issues. Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 entertaining programs in 48 states and five countries. She is the author of 10 published audio programs and two books including SECRETS YOUR BOSS ISN’T TELLING YOU.

Colleen Kettenhofen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars by calling (623)340-7690.