In an environment that relies so heavily on providing and utilizing feedback, both employers and employees must become comfortable with constructive criticism and its implications. Indeed, one’s success in the business world often depends on the ability to internalize such feedback, form solutions, and create goals in line with its content.
In spite of this, there are still many within the workplace who fail to provide or utilize criticism effectively. Many pursue confrontation only when necessary, approaching the situation with great caution and distress. Others avoid it at all costs, albeit to their own detriment. In turn, these shy attitudes stymie the growth that individuals and organizations could otherwise experience. In essence, they fail to acknowledge the positive role that constructive feedback can truly play and, therefore, suffer for it.
FOCUS ON ACTIONS
When providing feedback, be sure to focus on the individual’s actions rather than the individual. For example, if your HR representative fails to turn up any qualified talent, address particular actions that could have led to this deficit as opposed to calling the person “slow” or “incompetent.” Name calling will never never lead to better behavior, but addressing particular behaviors can. Furthermore, as one Talkdesk article so bluntly points out, “Employees are more open to receiving feedback about the impact of their behavior on performance than they are about their personal characteristics."
When pointing out someone’s flaws, it is quite easy to become harsh or arrogant due to frustration and other negative emotions. However, such negative emotions will not aid in producing constructive, growth-inducing discussion. Rather, they are likely to cause more negative emotion for the other party, a lack of progressive communication, and very few solutions. Stay humble, stay calm, and stay on topic.
Pointing out a problem is only half of the battle. Fixing the problem is the other half. Therefore, according to one Officevibe article, every time you point out a problem, it is imperative to point out possible solutions so that the individual knows where to begin solving the issue. It would be both unfair and unreasonable to expect an employee to remove a problem without proposing a solution first.
When describing an incorrect action that has been done, one must always use examples. These could be data, directly observed behaviors, or direct conversations, but they must always be concrete and firsthand knowledge. One Talkdesk article points out that employers should “never use rumors as examples.” On the other hand, examples of correct behavior are also quite productive when explaining what has been done wrong.
ADD A POSITIVE ELEMENT
Feedback doesn’t always have to be negative. In fact, positive feedback is just as important, if not more important, than constructive criticism. As the Harvard Business Review pointed out, “67% of employees whose managers focused on their strengths were fully engaged in their work, as compared to only 31% of employees whose managers focused on their weaknesses.” Pointing out employees’ (or even employers’) positive behavior should be done regularly, freely, and graciously.