Delivering Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism is useful when used with the aim of improving circumstances in the place of work, but it can be very challenging to receive or give construction criticism. When emotions are involved, it could become a delicate matter. The goal is to handle constructive criticism in an effective way that employees will benefit from.


Timing is important when delivering constructive criticism. While some instances can be addressed right away, others can be done on the employee’s next annual review. When it comes too late, the employees might dismiss any help and likewise, if it is done too early, the employees might doubt themselves. Deciding when feedback is given may rely on key situations. Usually the best time to give feedback is directly after an occurrence, addressing the problem right away.  If the problem is allowed to continue, it could affect the employee, as well as co-workers. The value of the feedback decreases as time passes.  Informal or formal feedback can be used.


It is commonly easier to deliver constructive criticism when properly prepared. Decide on what situation needs to be addressed and on what information needs to be conveyed. A sense of understanding toward the employee will result in better performance, and a better relationship between employees and management.


The location should allow for the employees to speak in private, away from other co-workers. Other factors can affect what would be the best time, such as if the employee is getting ready to go to lunch or tired. The manager should also consider how they are feeling before setting a time.

Setting Goals

Goal setting goes both ways. Both parties need to know the reason of the goal and what efforts will need to be made to achieve them. You should avoid letting the goal come across like an order or demand. Let the employee know what you want to see in regards to achievements, but also ask them what they want to gain from it. When goals are made as a team they will be more willing to work for it and succeed.

What not to do

Knowing what negative phrases and sensitive topics to avoid can be just as crucial. Try and avoid the following when delivering constructive criticism:

  • Talking Down
  • Attacking or Blaming
  • Becoming Emotional
  • Not giving the other person a chance to speak

Following up

Schedule a follow-up meeting to check on progress and if concerns have risen. Be available to the employee and provide feedback on progress. If goals were met and the employee has improved, congratulate them. If not, go back to the drawing board and see what other actions need to be taken. Do not leave the employee in the dark about their progress or shortcomings.



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