Members of your team are only human. There’s no doubt that mistakes will arise, goals may be missed, and adjustments need to be made. The best managers don’t craft perfect and mistake-free teams; this is all but an impossibility.

Instead, the best managers understand that sometimes team members fall short of what’s expected of them. A great leader will use these situations as a way to connect with team members and properly translate constructive criticism. The eLeaP continuous performance management system provides organizations with powerful options to attract and retain high caliber team members.

Constructive Criticism

Too many times, the term constructive criticism is used in situations that aren’t deserving of the label. In certain situations, it’s used as a way to label a softly spoken breakdown of an employee’s performance and efforts and hardly lead to anything constructive.

However, when used correctly, constructive criticism does lead to improved performance. The overall quality of the entire team’s work will reach new heights as well with the right connection from a leader within an organization.

Using a PMS platform is efficient in identifying when team members have areas that need improvement. However, these platforms can’t connect emotionally with humans in ways that lead to improved production. This article will explain the best ways for managers to give constructive criticism.

No Surprises

Sometimes a meeting with the topic of areas that need improvement can feel more like blindsiding than anything else. Schedule any meetings regarding performance ahead of time, and notify your team members what these meetings are about. This gives them time to prepare and think about things they may want to discuss as well.

Keep Issues Private

You should never offer constructive criticism in a public setting. These things should always be discussed in private, and none of your team members should ever feel like they are being singled out or made examples of.

In situations where performance is discussed in public, it becomes destructive criticism. Going through these events can be deconstructive and demoralizing for any employee.

Be Direct, Get to The Point

It’s vital that you clearly outline what the real issue is. Don’t beat around the bush or sugarcoat anything, as this hardly ever leads to any effective results.

Keep your focus and be direct with your team members. Encourage them to work with you in an effort to come up with a real solution to any issues.

Address Issues As They Happen

If things are left unresolved, they are likely to continue happening. You should never put off handling any issues that arise within your organization.

Challenges should be resolved in real-time. The earlier you deal with these challenges, the more favorable the results.

When you address performance issues as they happen, the events are fresh in the minds of your team members. This is more likely to lead to a more impactful meeting instead of requiring reflection or recollection of events that happened days or weeks prior.

Focus On The Situation and Not The Individual

Any feedback you offer should never be taken as criticizing someone’s personality. Focus on their actions, behaviors, and responses to certain events and situations. Give them examples of how they can improve their performance.

When speaking about a certain situation, give them examples of how certain behaviors may not have been as effective as others. Outline ways of how they could have dealt with the situation better.

When the situation is approached from this angle, you’re offering suggestions instead of criticizing them. You’re simply offering guidance as a manager that will lead to improved performance.

Extend A Retraining Offer

Depending on the specifics of the situation, offering some sort of retraining can be a great way to extend your support. Don’t offer it as a form of punishment. Instead, use it as an opportunity for them to refresh their memory and increase their knowledge regarding their job.

Summarize Everything

After you’re done meeting with a team member, end the conversation by summarizing everything. Mention the positive elements, but don’t leave out the negative. When someone is in the middle of receiving constructive criticism, it can be an overwhelming situation.

Feelings of anxiety may be involved for them as well. It’s not uncommon for some of the things you mentioned to be forgotten or not digested efficiently. Go back over the most important points of the conversation, and remind them again of the potential results of taking your advice.

Outlining potential outcomes in a positive way ends the meeting giving them something to look forward to. They’ll be more likely to strive for their best performance possible in order to manifest the potential outcomes you mentioned.

Use Yourself As An Example

You should never use other team members as an example, as these meetings and situations should be kept confidential. However, using yourself as an example will give you an opportunity to connect with an employee and make them feel like they’re not a rare case of failure.

Saying things like “it happens to the best of us” or “I remember when I was having these issues” can be a great way to remind them that we’re all human. This is also a great opportunity to make them more receptive to the advice you give them.

This is a common example of an “if it worked for me, it could work for anybody” situation. Using these simple psychological tactics can produce big results when it comes to employee/management meetings.

Nobody ever wants to feel like they are being torn down or singled out for poor performance. However, at the same time, most people love to feel like they are receiving help and being thrown a life preserver when they’re drowning. There is a fine line between the two.

As a manager, it’s your job to walk this line and find a delicate balance between leader and lifesaver. Using elements of both and making the right connection can give you the advantage and produce the best results when it comes to constructive criticism.

Use your PMS platform to provide sources and give examples of performance metrics. You can also use data to show how the advice you’re offering improved performance over time. It’s important to ensure team members that there is light at the end of the tunnel.