How to evaluate an employee using constructive criticism
By focusing objectively on the issue and carefully forming your evaluation, you will develop a reputation as a manager that can not only identify problems but also offer solutions. Here’s how:
1. Use constructive criticism
The term “criticism” has a negative connotation, while “feedback” implies the participation of both parties so both learn and grow from the discussion. By tackling employee reviews or other situations that need your input as a manager in terms of feedback, both you and your employees will feel more relaxed and receptive from the start.
2. Provide feedback on an ongoing basis
Don’t delay feedback until the yearly performance review, because most employees equate reviews with salary issues and will be so focused on that they might not be receptive to personal growth. Feedback should be about developing the employee and entails putting yourself in their shoes, appreciating his or her experiences, and helping to move that employee into learning mode.
3. Provide feedback in small doses
If you save up all your feedback until the most opportune moment to discuss them, the employee will often feel overwhelmed. Constructive criticism is best given in real time or immediately after the fact – don’t wait for problems to fester. Many successful management philosophies say that every single bit of constructive criticism should be balanced out with seven honest complements.
4. Start the conversation by asking questions
You shouldn’t be trying to persuade employees to do things the way that you would do them. Rather, you should be trying to find the root of the specific problem. Ask questions like, “Why did you approach this situation in this way?” “How can we do this better next time?” “What do you think needs to be improved?” These types of questions lead employees to their own solutions and insights.
5. Listen and learn
Managers often think they know what the problem is and why it happened, but they could easily be wrong. By listening to the employee and acknowledging what he or she has to say, you learn about that employee’s point of view.
That will give you an understanding of their motivations and desires, which in turn will help you better understand how to help him or her change the behavior in question.
6. Address the behavior, not the person
Avoid saying things like, “You’ve become unreliable, you’ve been late too much lately!” Instead, frame the conversation by starting with “You’re usually very punctual, but you’ve been late quite a bit lately. What’s going on?” Don’t treat feedback as a personality issue by saying something like, “What can you do to become more reliable?” Instead, say something like: “What can you do to ensure you’ll be on time more often?”
Employees respond well to constructive criticism and feedback when doled out in small doses – one issue at a time. Address one observable behavior at a time and nudge the employee toward a solution. That way, the employee is more likely to respond in a positive way and work toward bettering their performance, which is the singular goal you both should have.