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Top 10 Constructive Criticism Strategies

Talent Management

Top 10 Constructive Criticism Strategies

November 04, 2015 Kevin Burns

Human-resource managers these days face new challenges in the performance monitoring of employees because the traditional model of conducting annual performance reviews is seriously backfiring.

Fast Company reporter Kris Duggan shares that "Research psychologists at Kansas State University, Eastern Kentucky University and Texas A & M recently examined the effect on performance of negative feedback during annual performance reviews. Rather than motivating employees to improve, they found it had the opposite effect. In fact, many employees tend to misconstrue even the most positive feedback." He adds that "When the company [Microsoft] compared its employees on a bell curve, without offering real-time feedback, top employees fled."

How to Deliver Constructive Criticism for Employee Development -- and the Benefits From it

What's the alternative to stop employees from running for the hills when they hear "review time"?

Today's workforce wants ongoing, direct coaching and mentorship from their managers -- not just the annual "keep them or kill them" style reviews. Mr. Duggan noted that "Managers who check in on progress toward weekly goals are up to 24 times more likely to achieve them." It's clear that supervisors who are more closely involved in giving ongoing feedback to their employees increase productivity among their team members in the process. In the long run, workplace morale and employee-retention rates can improve greatly when you use more positive and constructive tips in the office.

  1. Reduce review anxiety with frequent, limited feedback sessions.
    You can reduce much of the fear around the review process by making regular bits of constructive feedback a normal part of the everyday operations -- rather than limiting the review process to one big, dreaded appointment once or twice annually that makes once-social employees suddenly dodge out of sight whenever they see you coming around the corner.

  2. Create and track clear goals for employees.
    Use performance management tools like Cornerstone's cloud-based performance tools to record and track the progress on specific goals for each employee. Thank each employee for their specific contributions toward achieving these goals each week. The software lets you easily monitor feedback from other employees and managers within the system to keep a more objective perspective on each employee's progress.

  3. Focus on how employees can continue developing.
    Other management tools within Cornerstone's employee-performance tracking software allow users to create specific development plans for each staff member in their profile. This way, you can create outlines listing specific skills and other objectives to ask team members to focus on so that it's easier for them to understand exactly what you want from them.

  4. Save time by listening first.
    Quality management requires listening to an employee's point of view. Always try to open a discussion about an employee's performance with the question, "How do you think you've done at work lately?" Encourage honesty from them -- you only need to spend time explaining points that they don't understand.

  5. Describe clear performance metrics to praise someone's work.
    For example, say, "You sold 10 more products than last week," rather than the vague phrase, "You're doing good on the sales floor."

  6. Get an expanded perspective on an employee's assets.
    Utilize Cornerstone's succession planning tool to prepare for any sudden employee turnovers. This tool takes data about each employee's strengths and skills to help objectively create new, highly effective project teams as needed. Plus, the software highlights positive, constructive qualities to mention to each team member when assigning them a new task.

  7. Show appreciation for those who are flexible.
    Find little ways to reward employees who display a willingness to change -- even if they initially disagree.

  8. Give them more reasons to do well.
    Make your key performance indicators clear to the whole team by giving small rewards to those who always come to work early, stay late, make more sales, clean up messes and so forth.

  9. Encourage extra learning opportunities.
    Don't confine talent management to the standard eight-hour workday. Provide incentives for those willing to continue improving their skills outside of the standard work week.

  10. Don't be a broken record.
    Don't say the same things over and over again to team members and expect to get different results! If someone's not getting the message, then find out why and try a new approach.
About Kevin Burns
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