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Criticize without rancor

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

When Liz Claiborne died last year, one of her longtime business partners told The New York Times, "Liz was a lovely person. That was one of the problems with her being a manager. She didn't know how to say something was terrible, because she knew how hard those designers had worked."

Many managers can surely relate to Claiborne's kindness. Who wants to tell diligent workers that they're screwing up?

But that's an inescapable part of your job. You cannot succeed as a manager without leveling sometimes-harsh criticism at your staff.

Take these steps to give feedback that others accept:

Strike an enthusiastic tone. Because delivering criticism might make you uncomfortable, you may speak in a sour or downright pained tone. If you grimace, squint your eyes and shake your head in dismay as you convey your concern, you drive people away. Instead, exhibit warmth and eagerness to share something of value.

Tell a story. Reflect on a time when you received criticism. Share your memory with your employee—how you didn't like hearing it at first but applied it to your advantage. That can set the stage for what follows.

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