How to Discuss Constructive Criticism With Employees

Performance reviews can be difficult when you have to address problems.

Employees and supervisors alike can get nervous during performance review time. There’s something nerve-wracking for employees who get called into the boss’s office, and while praising employees is an easy conversation, employers often struggle with how to deliver constructive criticism to employees who haven’t been performing where they should be. What can you do to make this conversation easier?


Try to prevent bad performance.

The easiest way to handle negative employee reviews is to avoid them! If you take time upfront in thoroughly screening and interviewing candidates—making sure they are right for the job—it’s less likely you’ll have issues once they start working. In addition to hiring well, make sure you establish a solid relationship with employees. Don’t let the first time you have a conversation with someone be during a review. Also make sure employees know what is expected of them when they start their position. Offer training or ask an experienced employee to help the new one.


Talk to the employee.

Even if you try to hire well, communicate frequently, and train employees, occasionally, you still are going to be faced with the task of having to give constructive criticism. Before you speak with an employee, think about what you want to say. The goal of your conversation is to help the employee improve performance, not to make him or her feel bad. Address the problem as soon as you see it; if you wait too long, the employee will think that what he or she is doing is acceptable. It will also make habits harder to change. When you have the conversation, share your observations of the behavior and provide specific examples.


Create a plan of action.

After you share your observations with the employee, remind them of the expected behavior. If possible, model it or have another employee demonstrate it. Talk about possible solutions, and get input from the employee so he or she has ownership in improvement. Recognize that it might be difficult for the employee to change the behavior overnight. Establish a date to follow-up and let them know what the consequences will be if they don’t improve. Make sure you end the conversation on a positive note. Express your confidence in the employee and communicate that you are available to help.


For more information on how you can make sure the hiring, training, and employment process goes smoothly, contact your local Penmac Staffing office.

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