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How to Give Criticism Effectively

Giving constructive criticism is an integral part of improving staff performance and increasing productivity — but it’s not always easy to do. To help you give constructive criticism effectively, you can follow a process made up of three steps:

  1. observe the individual’s behaviour,
  2. review your assumptions prior to meeting with the individual, and 
  3. make sure you give the criticism constructively.

1. Observe behaviour

When giving criticism, it’s important that you first observe the individual’s behaviour. This is so you can rely on your personal observations to determine whether or not criticism is necessary, and so that you can substantiate what you include in the criticism.

To observe behavior effectively, follow four simple guidelines:

  • observe the behaviour yourself — If you’re planning to give criticism, rely on your own observations of the person’s behavior rather than on the observations of others.
  • withhold judgment — Use your own experience and knowledge to assess the behavior you’ve observed and don’t pass judgment until all facts are known and the criticism is substantiated.
  • record specific examples — When observing the individual, note examples or instances of the behavior you’ll be criticizing. You can refer to these examples later on when giving the criticism. Use quotations to support your criticism and recreate the incident where possible.
  • plan to give the criticism yourself — When you’re ready to meet the individual, do so yourself — don’t pass the responsibility on to someone else.