When it comes to delivering feedback and criticism, there are best practices that, when used correctly, can improve performance, enhance trust and respect, and advance the achievement of mutual goals. Used incorrectly, and it can be toxic to a relationship.
Here are four guidelines to delivering criticism that improves performance, trust and respect, and advances the achievement of mutual goals:
1. Engage the person in a specific solution. All too often managers offer criticism in general terms, leaving the receiver to guess what remedy is expected. Engaging employees in a specific solution ensures they’ll get it right next time, communicates respect for their opinions, and builds their confidence.
2. Link the criticism to what’s most important to the employee. As an example, consider someone who cares about being respected by peers but is habitually late to meetings, often blaming her tardiness on her busy schedule. A manager might reprimand her either nicely (“Please make more of an effort to be on time”) or sharply (“Do we need to get you a new watch?”). But a more effective strategy is to say something like: “How do you think coming in late affects your reputation with your colleagues?”. If employees see the link between the criticism and the things they care about personally, they’ll be more receptive to it.
3. Keep your voice and body language neutral. At times, managers can motivate with a raised voice and expressive gestures to get across the message “we-can-do-better”. But, ideally, workplace criticism is far more effective when delivered in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, with a relaxed facial expression and neutral body language. An unemotional delivery sends a message that the criticism is simply part of doing business.
4. Heed individual preferences. Employees have feedback preferences. Some employees want advice and feedback immediately, while others prefer comprehensive feedback at a later designated time. Many managers believe it’s important to be open and receptive to criticism, but that’s easier said than done. When bosses follow these guidelines, employees are much more likely to make good on the goal of welcoming negative feedback.
Summarised from article by Deborah Bright, Harvard Business Review. Read the original article here.