An essential part of leading well is giving feedback to correct substandard work completed by members of your team, and to effectively encourage better results next time. A manager without Dale Carnegie Training might simply say “This isn’t good enough” or “Here’s what you did wrong and here’s how to fix it.” A frustrated manager may even say something like “This is terrible work and you’re not cutting it.” There are several better ways to not only make people correct their mistakes, but also want to do a better job next time. Here are some expert tips for constructive criticism from the Dale Carnegie Training program:
Admit your part in any mistake
If you admit your mistakes quickly and emphatically, your team will too, and that’s a key step towards improvement. As a manager, you may often be at fault in some way for mistakes made by your team—and owning up to that will show your strength of character (as a colleague and as their manager) and make it easier to deliver constructive criticism in the future.
Begin in a positive way
There’s always something you can find that is positive—even if it’s the effort made on an ultimately unsuccessful project. Give feedback by starting with sincere and honest appreciation (again, even if it’s to say “Thanks for trying…”) and then once you have made them feel valued, add your constructive criticism. When you’re asking anyone to change, starting in a positive way will make the outcome positive as well.
Use encouragement and make the fault seem easy to correct
If you simply hand back a mistake-ridden assignment and say “Fix this; it needs a lot of work,” the revise can seem overwhelming to your report. Instead, praise their ability in the past to make corrections quickly, mention that you’re confident in their ability to do that now, and let them know that they can come to you if they need further help with the assignment.
Praise the slightest improvement
Eventually, even the employee who is struggling the most will do something well; that’s your opportunity to jump on that success and praise it, which will encourage them to continue with their good work. Praise your employees by giving feedback specific to their work. For instance, don’t just say “Thanks for your hard work on the Nelson memo.” Instead, say “Thank you for catching that typo in the 3rd paragraph of the Nelson memo—if you hadn’t, that could have been a very big issue in the meeting.”