How to Deliver Successful Constructive Criticism at Work
It’s no secret that feedback is an essential component of the effective learning process. It’s a reaction to a learner’s action that aims to engage, inform and increase knowledge by reducing discrepancies between current understandings and performance and a goal
There are two types of feedback, positive and constructive. Positive feedback focuses on what we are doing well; That feels good and confirms our work. While constructive feedback isn’t always negative, it focuses on how we can improve our work. Learning to provide and accept constructive feedback is key to professional growth.
Constructive criticism is a helpful way of giving feedback that provides specific, actionable suggestions. Rather than providing general advice, constructive criticism offers specific recommendations on how to make positive improvements. Constructive criticism is clear, to the point, and easy to put into action. If you are a professional who wants to express and be able to accept constructive criticism, so it is actually productive and meaningful for both sides of the equation, it is very important that you learn to notice the differences and make the most out of both.
You can make use of constructive criticism as part of improvement strategies to help employees to better understand your expectations and how to meet and even exceed them. It can also create a positive atmosphere where the staff is comfortable asking questions, requesting assistance, and offering their own feedback and ideas.
Here are some steps to deliver successful constructive criticism within your organization:
1. Try to be very specific
The purpose of providing constructive feedback is to change behavior. Unless you describe the behavior in detail, the other party doesn’t understand why there is a problem. Always remember to not make comments as a personal attack. Be practical and give examples of what you would like the person to do the next time any situation presents itself. Open your invitations for productive language by identifying the other person's capabilities and the team's value.
2. Provide feedback proactively
As soon as you identify the conflict or the situation that can be handled in a different or more proper way, make sure to plan to give feedback that makes it clear what you observed, and what can be done differently. In some situations, you will see the need to approach the person or the team immediately. On others, you might even have a couple of days to prepare exactly what you want to say for them to adjust, in the ideal set and in the ideal moment.
Depending on your industry, and how your team works, you will know how to decide when to approach them. Reactions are not only useful for the treatment of negative behavior; You can also use them to promote positive pros. Team members strengthen these actions, set an example, and recognize what is working to add more value to the team.
3. Take a breath
Feedback should be a conversation, not a lecture. Be proactive, and try not to be reactive. Observe, take a breath, and act accordingly. If you realize you have to deal with a problem, go back and try to cool yourself off first, whenever it is possible.
Constructive comments generate a lot of energy, especially emotional efforts, so it could take you a long time to manage and organize your thoughts. If you have to deal with urgent situations and you must act immediately, still take five or ten minutes to organize your thoughts, and deliver them as calmly as you can depending on the situation.
4. Validate perception and be open to talk
Listen to every side of the story to get a full spectrum of what happened. Avoid biases that can interrupt the proper flow of the communication process. Consider gender, age, race, and position inside the company, among some of the several factors that can affect the experience of each one of the members of the team involved in any situations you have to deal with.
Don’t have a one-way conversation and listen to the other person. After all, you don’t know which external stressors they carry with them every day. In a private meeting with each person, you have the opportunity to understand the word more carefully and divide creative conversation.
Evaluate whether the other person’s behavior has changed after a reasonable period of time. If this happens, ask yourself how it changed.
If they notice and improve their behavior and performance, thank them at the right time. If the negative behavior or performance persists, be prepared for the next step. How much time are you willing to invest in this person? How many opportunities has that person had already? Choose the time when your colleagues will receive your feedback most comfortably to encourage more positive feedback and better future work.
Giving constructive feedback allows us to see our actions from the perspective of others. Two people often see a situation very differently and don’t even realize it. Not giving the necessary feedback, especially after unacceptable behavior, will have consequences. Create an action plan to provide important and informative feedback.
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