Established, since 1997, leading UK based training provider.

Management Skills Training - Giving Constructive Criticism

Giving constructive criticism

Giving constructive criticism is one of the most important skills for the leader, manager.

Constructive criticism is criticism of a person's behaviour, work performance or idea, which is perceived by the receiver, to be more like help, or friendly guidance, rather than "a telling off".

Constructive criticism is important because the fact is,

  • People sometimes do things wrong.
  • And or, they sometimes do the wrong things.

And because they do the wrong things, and do things wrong, they need to be corrected.

But most people hate being corrected.

  • Most people like being praised.
  • But they hate being corrected.

Especially by you.

The attitude of most people to "corrective feedback" is, "How dare you criticise me?"

Corrective, feedback, critical feedback, is a vital component of success because any deviation from correct performance of a task is a waste of time, money and effort.
And if the deviation from correct performance is severe or prolonged, then that error could cause the whole project to fail.
So, you need to give corrective feedback, critical feedback: It must be given by you to the people who are doing it wrong, but the problem is that: People hate to be corrected by you.

This is a problem.

In order to resolve this it is important to make the distinction between a:

  • Constructive, "Negative Feedback" message
  • And insult

Question: is there a difference between an insult and negative feedback?

Yes.

What is the difference between a "Constructive, negative feedback" message" and an insult message?

In order to figure out the difference, please read the following statements and label each one either.

  1. Feedback. or
  2. Insult.
  1. You are an idiot. Feedback or Insult?
  2. You were late for the last three team meetings. Feedback or Insult?
  3. You were totally unprofessional.
  4. Your earrings look stupid.
  5. There is a spelling mistake here.
  6. Your shoes are muddy and you have a coffee stain on your shirt.
  7. You look a right mess.
  8. You are a clown.
  9. You didn't send me those documents like you said you would.
  10. You fool. You didn't send me those documents.

Feedback or Insult?

Leadership Training - The Effective Leader Manager

Leadership Training - The Effective Leader Manager

As the team leader or manager, you know that, on the technical level, you are very good. In your role as an effective and inspirational leader-manager, you recognise that there may be some gaps. Now you are searching for a method to help you to improve your skills as a team-leader and manager - click here to find out more!

Put the above examples into two sets.

Let us assume you have finished that.

Here are the answers:

Let us assume you said the following.

  • You are an idiot. Insult.
  • You were late for the last three team meetings. Feedback.
  • You were totally unprofessional. Insult.
  • Your earrings look stupid. Insult.
  • There is a spelling mistake here. Feedback.
  • Your shoes are muddy and you have a coffee stain on your shirt. Feedback.
  • You look a right mess. Insult.
  • You are a clown. Insult.
  • You didn't send me those documents, like you said you would. Feedback.
  • You fool. You didn't send me those documents. Insult.

Now the question is:

What is the difference?

  • What are the characteristics of insults that make them insulting?
  • What are the characteristics of feedback messages that make them not insulting?

Here is what I hope you have discovered:

Insult
"Constructive, "Negative Feedback"
Are Intended to hurt
Are Intended not to hurt
Vague Specific
Emotionalised Factual
Does not suggest a specific corrective action Does suggest a specific corrective action
Subjective Objective


The point to remember is:

Distinguish between insults and feedback information.

  • Dish out feedback.
  • Don't dish out insults.
  • Don't get them mixed up.

Insults are. Vague. Emotionalised. Do not suggest a specific corrective action and are Subjective.

Constructive feedback is the opposite:
Constructive feedback is: Specific. Factual. Do suggest a specific corrective action. Objective.

Make your feedback objective and specific.

Your Comments

Further Reading in Conflict Management and Handling Difficult People

  • How to Deal with Conflict Situations
    Conflict is inevitable when dealing with people who do not think or act the way you believe to be correct. Learning how to handle conflict situations is important.
    Read Article >
  • Performance Management Training
    Performance Management Performance management is the art of getting the best performance from other people. In order to be a good performance manager, you need to know the proper principles of performance management and you need to have the communication skills that will allow you to apply the principles to others...
    Read Article >
  • Good communication skills - Distinguish feedback from insults
    Distinguish "feedback" from "insults" Occasionally you need to give feedback to other people. Giving feedback is a vital management skill. Essentially, there are two kinds of feedback message: Positive praise; which is easy to give because most people like receiving praise. Negative feedback (constructive criticism) is not easy to give because...
    Read Article >
  • Using Reason to Handle Difficult People
    If you wish to get on with difficult people, then appeal to their sense of reason. Treat all problems, and all people according to the principles of reason.
    Read Article >
  • How to manage difficult people
    The art of properly managing difficult people Sometimes you have to manage difficult people. Managing difficult people will mean that you have to manage emotions. That may mean managing your own emotions and it may mean that you must manage the other person's emotions. But the most important thing is that...
    Read Article >