I was reading an article about criticism in the workplace on Inc.com. Basically, it said that criticism causes an employee to shut down, to tune you—and your vital feedback—out. So the solution is to balance the positivity and negativity of your feedback.
I think that’s wrong. It’s not completely wrong, but I think it assumes a falsehood: that feedback can only come at the performance review.
If the annual review is the only time you’re providing clear, actionable feedback to those you manage, you’re doing it wrong. That’s a year of incorrect or improper behavior that you’re only waiting until now to address? It could even possibly take longer, if your employee needs a little bit of time to right the ship.
Instead, provide feedback often and in small bits. I check in after every project:
- What did I accomplish?
- What did I do well?
- What can I do better on?
- How can I do better?
And this has helped me to no end. I ask my managers to pull no punches, and to take ego and passion out of the conversation, and together we figure out how to make the next project go faster and better.
In this way, it’s not “here’s what you did wrong and here’s what’s wrong with you”, it’s “here’s what you can do next time to become better at the job so that you’ll be more successful within the company”.
I think that’s what the lesson really should be: if you can create an atmosphere of dispassionate, earnest, communal feedback, then you don’t have feelings hurt.
Here’s what I want:
A culture of dispassionate, neutral feedback. Don’t mince words, don’t hem or haw, don’t waste time. If I’m doing something incorrectly or need improvement, tell me. And then trust me to fix it.
Top image from Flicker User woodleywonderworks under CC BY 2.0
- 16 Things a Boss Should Never Say (libgrl.wordpress.com)