Is Your Constructive Criticism Truly Constructive?

Constructive Criticism-1We have all had to give- and receive- feedback to or from an individual or group at one time or another. When it’s given correctly, feedback can be a very helpful mechanism for job development and can be a stepping stone to the path of success! I am sure we have all had feedback given in a variety of settings and can remember times when you both took and gave feedback very well…as well as times when the experience was not quite so rewarding or helpful. “Constructive criticism” can really be an art form- providing useful, meaningful advice or edits with a specific purpose. Here are some basic principles to apply when attempting to offer constructive one-on-one criticism to ensure your feedback is useful and meaningful:

  1. Be direct - Transparency builds trust. Let the person you’re reviewing know upfront what you’re going to cover and what you hope to accomplish. Be specific.
  1. Comment on actionable and direct items: Your goal is to help the person you’re speaking with improve- items discussed should be within the realm of action and provide feedback on those specific items.
  1. Be positive: Discuss the positives on feedback first- and then provide helpful tips. Positive feedback allows others to feel they are valued and are more open to discussions regarding change. Learn more about the Sandwich Method here.
  1. Be supportive – provide feedback about how you might tackle, or have tackled, a similar issue. What did you do to improve? Real life experience and sincerity can speak volumes.
  1. Ask what’s needed in order to achieve success - What help can you or others provide…listen to what they need.
  1. Follow-up – check in on progress and lend support. It might take more than one round of feedback to conquer a larger issue- make sure you are available along the way.


The Bottom Line

Criticism can be constructive when the goals are clear, the rules fair, and the process transparent. A two-way conversation is critical. Take a look at some additional resources and references, following:

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