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How to Criticize Employees with Care

Constructive criticism should be an ongoing part of your interaction with employees. When you offer criticism to an employee, remember to keep your criticism strictly professional. Most people know when they’ve made a mistake, and you don’t want to lower their confidence even more.

A personal attack — “You are so inept!” — is rude, unprofessional, and accomplishes nothing.

Here are some other things to keep in mind when you deliver criticism:

  • Focus on facts, not feelings. Just state the problem and keep emotion out of it.

  • Be specific. Explain what your criticism relates to, in detail.

  • Be timely. Discuss a situation as soon as your emotions cool.

  • Be direct, but tactful. Make sure that you use the words that you actually mean, instead of searching for a softer word that doesn’t really make your point.

  • Give feedback in private. You don’t need to embarrass someone with an audience. Take the person aside and speak with him or her one-on-one.

  • Consider any training opportunities. Don’t forget to consider the person’s skills. If you find him or her lacking, provide mentoring or training.

  • Know what you want to say. You may even want to write down key points so that you don’t forget anything or get sidetracked.

  • Listen to what they have to say. After you have your say, listen to the other side of the story. You may not be aware of some circumstances. Keep an open mind, listen, and be sure to communicate regularly.

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