Have you ever said those words? I have. Many times. You don’t want to extinguish the enthusiasm behind the idea, but let’s face it–the idea is dreadful. So, what do you say? “That’s interesting….” I know I’m not the only leader who encounters this situation on a regular basis.
Part of leadership is giving constructive criticism to your team. This isn’t always pleasant, so here are 5 tips from one of my textbooks to help make giving criticism a little more manageable. [My comments follow in italics.]
- Make “I” statements. Own your criticism by saying, “I’m confused by this sentence,” not “You confused me.” [Bringing yourself into the conversation helps soften the blow.]
- Be clear and specific, commenting on the work, not the person. Instead of “Why do you always make the same mistake?” try “This should be written as two separate sentences. Do you remember doing that before?” [I have found this to be key. Often times people feel “attacked” when you critique their work. Making a clear separation between the person and the person’s work is important.]
- Control your emotions and speak in a normal tone of voice. Show some empathy and understanding. [Just be genuinely nice about the whole thing. It works wonders.]
- Offer practical suggestions. Without suggestions on how the work might be improved, criticism is generally useless. [If you can’t offer a solution, or at least a suggestion, you shouldn’t be complaining.]
- Choose an appropriate time and place for this discussion. [My mom always told me, “praise in public, correct in private.” Good advice.]
I’d also like to add one final thought: Your team is like a bank account. You have to put something in before you are able to take something out. Praise = a deposit. Criticism = a withdraw. Make sure you are putting in more than you are taking out.
And remember, you won’t always be the one giving criticism. Sometimes you have to receive it. For a good article on that, click here.