4 rules for offering criticism

At some point, you will need to criticize an idea, someone’s performance or the outcome of a project. When you do, follow these tips:

Forget the “feedback sandwich.” For years, experts have advocated for offering praise, then the criticism, and then more praise. The tactic doesn’t work, however, because the praise is often forced and not genuine, and that decreases employees’ trust in you.

Be honest. You shouldn’t be rude or act angry. However, you’re dealing with adults, so speak candidly when employees’ work is not good enough.

Offer solutions. If you criticize without telling employees how to improve, you’re just whining. Before you speak to employees, outline specifically what you want them to do to improve.

Be open to dialogue. If you want employees to take your message to heart, you can’t just lecture them and be done with it. Invite them to offer their input, and then together agree on action steps and the outcome you both want.

— Adapted from “Four Ways to Give Your Employees Better Feedback, From Management Veterans,” Oliver Staley, Quartz Media, https://qz.com.

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