How can you teach your employees to give and receive criticism at work?

Criticism is a part of any work place. Ideally, it’s all constructive criticism, though that’s not necessarily always the case. Having an effective and generally positive feedback loop is key to maintaining and optimizing not just productivity, but the overall atmosphere of a workplace.

So what can you tell to your workers that will better help them both absorb, learn from and provide criticism? Courtney Seiter and Harvey Deutschendorf of Fast Company both wrote articles in an attempt to address this question:

  • In terms of directing criticism at someone, Seiter reminds readers to focus on what the recipients are doing, and not the recipients themselves. “Focusing the criticism on just the situation you want to address—on what someone does or says, rather than the individual themselves—separates the problematic situation from the person’s identity, allowing them to focus on what you’re saying without feeling personally confronted,” she says.
  • A trick one can use in giving criticism that is often effective in softening the blow is the “criticism sandwich,” where the critical thought is preceded and followed by praise, and even an offer of support on addressing what’s wrong. Seiter cautions on overdoing it however, and letting the crux of the criticism get lost in the shuffle.
  • For recipients of criticism, Deutschendorf recommends preparation, which should include reflection on the last time criticism was received. Was it handled well? What should have been done differently?
  • On a related note, knowing when and when not to defend one’s self is crucial. It can be difficult to remember that many times criticism is founded, but it is necessary.

HR departments have never had more on their plate to do, so implementing good feedback practices can be difficult. That’s where we at HR Software Solutions and our expertise in HR software systems can help you free up time to do just that.

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