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How to Criticize your Employees the Right Way

When you hear the word “criticize,” the things that come to mind are mostly negative. We tend to think of things like nagging, failure, punishment, disapproval… and the list goes on.

Word associations like these make it difficult to address issues in the workplace, whether it’s because employees will actually take what we say the wrong way or because we’re afraid of being honest, for fear of how we think they’ll react. This is something we talked about last week when we wrote about why team leaders need to honest with theirs employees.

As a result, it can be really hard to get things done, let alone get them done right.

The source of why people don’t take criticism lightly is all over the place; some argue that it starts with leaders, while others think it has to do with an employee’s low threshold for critiques. We think it comes from both, which is why we’re going to explain the right ways that leaders should criticize, and the right way for employees to take criticism.

For today, we’re going to focus on the leaders–and how you can criticize your employees the right way. Take a look below:

Check your tone 

Tone is one of the first things people notice when they are being addressed, so be aware of how you’ll speak, before you speak. It’s easy to get off track and sound frustrated; even if you are frustrated, it’s key not to let that show through too much.

Consider your employee’s perspective

You should also always keep in mind your employee’s perspective. You are, after all, a higher-up, and potentially have the power (or at least some say) in whether or not they get to keep their job, so be aware of how intimidating you may come off.

If anything, you might want to declare your intentions from the get-go. Letting them know how serious the issue is is one way to level the playing field. 

Pick the right time and place

Just because the moment is convenient for your doesn’t necessarily mean it’s convenient for your employee. Picking the right time and place can make a whole world of difference. If you notice that they are particularly busy at the moment, then you might want hold off because frankly, no one wants to be told they’re doing something wrong and then have to go back to a heavy workload.

You don’t need to tip-toe around your employee, but finding them in the right mood will make things goes much smoother.

Keep things balanced 

If the only time you address an employee is when you have an issue with them, then that is something you need to fix right away. Try providing positive feedback so that when it comes time to address an issue, your employee won’t think that all you see in them is failure. It’s also a good idea to provide some sort of feedback or advice when you criticize your employees in order to soften the blow.

Criticism doesn’t have to be negative. If anything, we think it should mean an opportunity for improvement, which no employee should ever take the wrong way. How and when you say things really affects your message when you criticize your employees, so it’s best to always keep that in mind. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.

Have any tips for addressing issues with your employee? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!

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Return to July 2014 Newsletter

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Chattanooga Area Chapter of ATD
P.O. Box 28214
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