Giving and receiving constructive feedback at the workplace is key to career growth. Constructive criticism at the workplace is any form of feedback that is meant to help to improve, promote or enhance further development of an employees’ performance. Constructive criticism at the workplace is something that a lot of people struggle with. People struggle with receiving feedback. Many people react to criticism with defensiveness and anger. Worse still, most of us rush to attack the person who is giving us feedback. This happens even though most of us know that constructive criticism at the workplace helps us advance in our careers. Learning how to receive constructive criticism at the workplace will help us maintain healthy relationships. Receiving constructive criticism at the workplace positively also helps the person who is giving the feedback to feel appreciated.
Why constructive criticism in the workplace is important.
It improves the quality of your work.
Constructive criticism can help you improve your work over time. If you are a junior employee, receiving feedback from senior managers helps you improve the quality of your work over time. It can help you learn how to improve your productivity, work faster and more efficiently and therefore improve your work results.
It promotes personal growth
If you are looking to grow in your career, you need to learn how to take constructive criticism in the workplace positively. You need to be open to learning which areas of your work need improvement. For example, the way you communicate at work may not be effective. You may be delaying others due to non-effective communication. If you receive constructive criticism in this area, not only will it help you in future, it will help you save time.
It promotes communications in organization.
Working in an environment that promotes constructive criticism, brings about trust among employees. Every person in such a work environment benefits and grows. Learning how to give and receive constructive criticism at the workplace brings about a collaborative atmosphere. This kind of atmosphere makes everyone to be proactive which brings about mutual career success.
How to give constructive criticism at the workplace.
Focus on the situation, not the person.
To most people, this tip is difficult. It is, however, important to give it a try because with time, it builds very strong relationships among colleagues.
- Detach the person from the situation and focus only on the action, situation or issue. Focus on the wrong behaviour or action that the person did.
- Comment on the situation, instead of the person. For example, ‘The article is late for submission.’ Not ‘You are late.’
- Use passive voice instead of active voice. This shifts the blame away from the person and instead focuses on the situation at hand. For example ‘You did a poorly written article.’ Instead, you should say ‘The article you did was poorly written.’
- Share how the behaviour affects you. This is helpful because it helps you avoid directly attacking the person. It also gives the person receiving feedback a chance to think about how their behaviour affects you. If the person values your relationship, they will evaluate the situation and act positively.
Use the Kiss, Kick, and Kiss Method.
This is a popular method used in the corporate world to give feedback. Some people call it ‘Praise, Improve and Praise.’ Abbreviated as PIP. This method is broken down into 3 sections.
- Kiss – You start off by focusing on the positive thing about the situation or person.
- Kick – You provide criticism (things you don’t like) about the person or situation. These should be the areas for improvement.
- Kiss – End the feedback with positive comments. This can be an addition to the positive comments you started with or the expected positive outcome from the improvements.
When you use this method, it assures the person receiving the feedback that you value them and that the feedback is meant to help them. It shows the receiver that you are on their side. It also shows them that you are not about to attack them. This kind of constructive feedback at the workplace makes the receiver to be receptive to the criticism.
For Example: “Great article! I love the fact that you put a lot of thought into it. However, I thought there are two things you can do to improve it. Firstly, make the sentences shorter to make it easier for the reader to understand. Secondly, countercheck spelling mistakes as this might put off most readers. Overall, great work! I can see tremendous improvements in your writing.”
This method is most useful when communicating with people you don’t know well. It is also effective when talking to a new employee. It makes them feel welcome. They fit in faster in the workplace.
Be very specific about feedback.
Specific feedback helps the receiver more as they know exactly what to work on.
Ways to make your feedback more specific.
- Break down your feedback into key points. Giving feedback as one big lump does not result in positive results. This is mostly because the receiver of the feedback does not know what specifically to work on.
- Make the person aware of exactly what they should work on. Most of the time, the person is oblivious of their behaviour. Make sure you give a specific example in each point. At the same time, pointing just 2-3 examples is helpful enough.
Tell the person exactly what they should do to improve.
This is particularly important for senior managers when they give feedback to junior employees. The importance of doing is this is that people have different ways of interpreting feedback. Giving a specific recommendation will, therefore, allow somebody to know exactly what you have in mind. It avoids confusion and procrastination. This will make your critique more effective as the person knows what exactly they should do. It is also advisable to explain the rationale for your recommendations.
Example: Giving feedback on a presentation.
Bad recommendation: “Your presentation is very long. Find ways of making shorter.” This is not a helpful recommendation. It does not show the person exactly what they should do in order to reduce the length of the presentation. You should aim at being very specific.
Good recommendation: “Instead of giving 3 examples in each of the points give just one example. This will reduce the length of your presentation from 30 to 20 minutes. This is a specific recommendation as the person knows exactly what to do.”
How to handle constructive criticism at the workplace.
Learning the art of receiving feedback is an important skill that everyone should have. It is important to embrace feedback whether positive or negative. You should always be prepared for it.
Manage the process.
- Record the feedback. This is important for future reference when you want to refer to the recommendations previously given.
- Take notes. This ensures that you do not miss and forget very important recommendations. This also shows the giver of the feedback that you value it.
- Observe the body language. The body language of the person giving feedback should go hand in hand with their words. If you feel that the person is hostile, you can speak about it.
- Go through the feedback. This is done at the end of receiving the feedback. It is done to counter-check with the giver of the feedback that you completely understand the recommendations.
Handling negative feedback.
- Be prepared for it. It is part of career growth.
- Embrace it. Negative feedback helps you grow a lot.
- If it is missing, be alert! Your main goal at the workplace should be to grow in all aspects. If negative feedback is always missing from your boss or workmates, ask for it.
How to handle destructive criticism at the workplace.
When it comes handling destructive criticism at the workplace, it helps to have a learning mindset. Avoid taking anything personally. Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a small book titled The Four Agreements which will teach you this important life lesson; don’t take anything personally. I’d recommend reading it as soon as today as it will save you a lot of work heartaches! As much as we all don’t like to be criticized, learning how to use it to your advantage is key. If you use destructive criticism to learn more about yourself, you will grow in your career.
Stay calm while receiving destructive criticism.
This will enable you to listen to the criticism without rushing to being defensive. Learning how to listen will enable you to ask the right questions and therefore get more from the criticism.
Listen keenly and ask questions.
The only way to understand the criticism is by paying attention. After the person is done, ask questions to ensure you clearly understand the message. This will enable you to make the appropriate action.
Assess the source of the criticism.
While you are meant to take criticism from a learning point of view, it is important to take care of yourself. Some people enjoy putting others down. Once you feel that this is the case, find ways of seeking help.
Check the relevance of the criticism.
It is important for you to decide how important the criticism is to you. Ask yourself if the criticism is valid. If yes, incorporate the necessary changes. Important criticism comes from people who matter and who have our best interests at heart.
Take time to reflect on what you learnt from it.
If the criticism is great, it will help you improve your performance at work. If the criticism is not valid, it will help you gain perspective of the person who is giving it.
Follow up with the person who gave the feedback.
If you decide to implement the suggestions offered by the person, it is important to follow up. This will help in maintaining a good relationship with the critic. In the case of your boss, this will come in handy. It might earn you a promotion as it reflects your maturity level.
People seldom refuse help, if you offer it in the right way. – A. C Benson
One of the greatest insights that you can impart to a future leader is the importance of viewing feedback as a gift rather than a threat. – Howard M. Guttman.
The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure criticism without resentment. – Elbert Hubbard
We all need people who will give us feedback. That is how we improve. – Bill Gates