Being given constructive criticism in the workplace is something we’ve all experienced but for many people, it can be hard to take.
When we receive great feedback, it boosts morale and confidence, but it’s natural to feel down if the feedback isn’t quite so positive.
It can leave feelings of negativity and even resentment if an employee feels their hard work hasn’t been recognised or appreciated.
The secret is learning how to take constructive criticism and recognise the fact that any feedback can be interpreted more positively by simply adapting your mindset.
What is constructive criticism?
People in managerial and supervisory positions in the workplace typically provide constructive criticism for employees. It’s a type of critique designed to encourage the individual to make positive and meaningful changes to the way they work or behave.
The criticism should be actionable and is aimed at encouraging employees, hence being called “constructive”, rather than being simply a complaint about the way they work.
Why is constructive criticism important?
As an important part of employee development and workplace success; responding to constructive criticism in a positive way enables an individual to move forward, as they learn from their mistakes and excel in subsequent projects.
People in supervisory roles aren’t aiming to create a negative atmosphere or dent employee confidence. Maintaining a positive attitude at work is vital for both the individuals and the company as a whole. The hope is that the employee can absorb what their manager is saying and then carefully consider how this critique can be used to improve their work.
Unfortunately, workplace studies suggest most employees react badly to negative feedback.
While 96% of employees believe receiving feedback is a good thing, as it also gives them a chance to air their views, only 10% say they feel engaged after receiving negative comments.
This shows that managers delivering constructive criticism need to ensure those on the receiving end aren’t leaving the meeting room with a negative impression, as this affects morale, engagement and productivity.
Examples of constructive criticism
Constructive criticism isn’t a case of pointing out weaknesses just for the sake of it. When delivered appropriately, it can help an employee turn their career around.
An example of constructive criticism could be conveying to a team member that they are making errors in their work.
The correct way to start would be by pointing out the positives, such as how they always meet deadlines, or are enthusiastic about incorporating the company’s vision into their projects. This can be followed by saying there have been some missed details on recent projects, so these must be corrected prior to commencing the next stage.
Actionable advice could be to create a detailed checklist for the next assignment, with a follow-up meeting and evaluation planned to see how this goes. It is important to make sure no constructive criticism leaves a negative impression.
As an employee, overthinking at work following an appraisal can lead to increasing feelings of negativity and resentment if you believe it has gone badly.
Around two-fifths of workers have left a job because of dissatisfaction with the feedback system, claiming they haven’t been listened to. A lot felt they had simply come under fire, according to a survey of 5,000 employees.
How to take constructive criticism
First, keep an open mind and be receptive to what’s said, rather than allowing an inclination to take offence cloud your vision. The idea is to learn something and move forward, so you can become the best version of yourself.
Rather than responding with a “knee-jerk” reaction while feelings are running high, take time to process your emotions in an objective way – so you can judge the criticism in a rational manner. Process what has been said over a period of a few days in an analytic fashion and assess how you think it can be beneficial.
Compare your usual behaviour with how you will conduct yourself if you take the proposed changes into account. Consider the person who gave you the advice – because if it comes from your supervisor, you must treat it as important. If you ignore advice that your line manager obviously feels is necessary, this can have a negative effect on your professional career.
If the advice has come from a colleague whose opinion you value because you respect them, it’s also worth seriously considering it.
If you still have doubts about what has been said to you, it can be worth seeking a second opinion by speaking to another person who understands the situation. They may be able to present a new take on the criticism, enabling you to see something you were missing before.
Learning how to apply what you learn is a vital skill to progress your career. Once you determine the comments are fair, turn them into an action plan. Use advice to aid self-growth by implementing changes in working practices, especially if it has been given by your manager. They have no wish to see you fail and once you understand this, the easier it will be to reach your full potential.
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