Most people do not enjoy hearing criticism, but there is a positive role that criticism can fill, especially if it is crafted well.

Today I will show you how to craft feedback that will be constructive rather than destructive and will more likely be received better and result in growth and improvement.  

  • Determine why the criticism is needed.
  • Follow the “recipe” for constructive criticism.

The first thing to determine, is why the criticism is needed. Is it going to be helpful to the project, team, or person? Is it necessary? Is ignoring it going to give a greenlight to undesirable patterns?

Determining your motivation is important. If it is perceived as just being picky, the relationship will suffer as well as morale. If the criticism is left unsaid and the result will bring harm to the team, project or person, you are being irresponsible.

Second, constructive criticism has a “recipe”. It goes like this:

 Positive statement, Correction needed, Positive statement.

  • Begin the conversation with something positive. Find something you can complement in the situation. This sets the tone as instructive and doesn’t leave the other person feeling they were hit with a hammer.
  • After the complement, state the situation that needs corrected very clearly. Use a calm, matter of fact tone of voice. Explain WHY it needs corrected. Give suggestions as to HOW it can be corrected. This is your opportunity to be a great coach!
  • End the conversation with a word of encouragement. You want the person to feel you believe they can do this, and you are not giving up on them. 

Constructive criticism does just what it says: it builds up.  This is one example of how great leaders shepherd their flock.

 It is important to not leave needed criticism unsaid, because in the end, that is not helpful to the person or the team.  Yet developing the skill of delivering criticism in an effective and positive way can make a huge difference in the climate and culture of an organization. This is applicable to one’s personal life, as well.

Like all communication skills, practice will be needed. Notice yourself the next time you find an opportunity where criticism is needed. Remember the recipe and see if you like the results!

-Jan Jones

More on how to give constructive criticism: