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Management Skills Training - Giving Constructive Criticism

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.

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 an insult

The difference between an insult and negative feedback

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

Here are the answers:

  • 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.

What are the characteristics of insults that make them insulting?

  • Insults are intended to hurt
  • Vague
  • Are intended to hurt
  • Emotionalised
  • Does not suggest a specific corrective action
  • Subjective

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

  • Constructive, negative feedback
  • Are not intended to hurt
  • Specific
  • Factual
  • Does suggest a specific corrective action
  • 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. They do not suggest a specific corrective action and are subjective.

Constructive feedback is: Specific, factual. Does suggest a specific corrective action and is objective.

Make your feedback objective and specific.

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