Client Resources

Your Delivery of Criticism Makes a Bigger Impact Than You Think

Praising an employee for a job well done is easy; everybody likes to get a compliment. However, employees aren’t perfect all the time and the tough task of delivering constructive criticism comes with the territory of being a business leader.

If you’re uncomfortable with criticizing your staff, welcome to the club. Even seasoned executives find it challenging to tell other people where they have to do a better job. A good approach is to take on a coaching mentality, as opposed to being a judge handing out a sentence. Here are a few ways you can guide your wayward employees in the right direction.

Avoid being a know-it-all

Many well-meaning business leaders address performance issues by doling out bits of wisdom or handing out “magic bullet” solutions. While giving an employee a quick fix might be good for your own ego, it isn’t the most effective way to correct bad or inefficient behavior.

Instead of handing down solutions from on high, try to foster self-discovery in your employees by asking open-ended questions. For instance, if an employee’s work is substandard, you could ask them what they might do differently that could lead to better results.

Avoid insulting or belittling tones

When an employee makes a mistake, it can be frustrating, and in your frustration, it can be tempting to make an employee feel bad about themselves. Once again, giving into your own ego can feel good, but it doesn’t do much for the employee, who you need to do a better job.

Rather than making provocative remarks, try to talk to employees in a way that shows compassion for their situation.

Focus on actions, not the person

When trying to coach an employee, don’t deliver feedback in a way that makes them feel like they are defective or incompetent. Instead, confront the behavior that’s at issue. So rather than calling someone unreliable for missing deadlines, a more effective approach might be to ask, “What can you do to make sure you’ll meet deadlines in the future?”

Don’t unload criticism all at once

Letting problems fester leads to resentment and if you’re feeling resentful, your employees are less likely to take your feedback to heart. If you keep a backlog of criticisms in your head, waiting for the “right moment” to unload them, the employee is more likely to feel overwhelmed or resistant.

Critical feedback about important issues should be provided in real time, or once tempers have cooled. The best time to provide criticism about less-than-urgent matters is when an employee is making progress but still has room for improvement. In this situation, try to balance each criticism with multiple compliments.

Work with a top supply chain recruiter

At ZDA, we work with both our clients and contract workers to ensure occasional performance issues are addressed constructively, professionally and in a way that benefits everyone involved. If your company is currently looking to a talent acquisition partner that will follow up with exceptional service, please contact ZDA today and work with a top supply chain recruiter.


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