There is a right way and a wrong way to critique an employee’s performance. The right way will lead to positive growth for the employee and the company; the wrong way can lead to a disgruntled employee whose work performance will suffer.

In “6 Habits of Highly Effective Bosses,” executive coaches Stephen Kohn and Vincent O’Connell offer five strategies for delivering effective critiques:
  • Evaluate the intent behind the critique. As a manager, be sure your motivations for the critique are in the best interests of the company. Anger or revenge are not reasons for critiquing an employee. Cool down first, and then address the problem at a later date.
  • Carefully time the criticism. Always deliver criticisms in a private setting to ensure the employee is fully listening to your concerns and to avoid demoralizing other staff members. Also, Kohn and O’Connell advise addressing any concerns with 48 hours of a problem surfacing.
  • D Evaluate the situation. Consider personal issues before chalking problems up to laziness or inability. Is the employee overworked? Stressed? Many factors can play into problems; be sure to consider the big picture.
  • Use the “sandwich technique.” Be sure to critique the problem, not the person. Begin the critique with a positive statement of the employee’s assets, and then discuss the issues at hand. Be sure the employee understands your concerns and knows how to correct the problems. End the critique with a positive.
  • Prepare for a defensive employee. No matter how well the criticism is crafted, some employees will become defensive. Prepare yourself for it and focus on the solution to the issues at hand, not the employee’s reaction.