No employee is perfect. They will make mistakes, and it’s your job as the entrepreneur and leader to give them the feedback they need to improve. However, that can be a difficult discussion to have. Attempts to help your employee can be taken the wrong way if you approach it incorrectly. Here are 5 things you can do to stack the deck in your favor and give constructive criticism in a way people will listen to:

1. Be Clear What You’re There to Accomplish

constructive criticismCalling an employee into a meeting an immediately telling them what they did wrong, without context, can set a poor tone to the conversation. They can easily become defensive and resistant to your criticism, limiting what you can accomplish. That’s why you need to explain what you’re there to do, from the very start. It sets expectations and gives employees time to brace themselves for what you’re about to say.

2. Develop Strong Relationships with Your Employees from the Start

The relationship you have with your employees has a direct impact on how willing they are to listen to your constructive criticism. If you have a poor relationship with them, you’ll find it much harder to give them good feedback. Conversely, an employee who trusts you will be receptive to what you have to say.

3. Hold Yourself Accountable

While your employees are ultimately responsible for their own actions, as the boss, you are still accountable for their actions. You chose them and entrusted them with their responsibilities. That’s why one of the things you should do is to take responsibility for the error. Not only does this show that you’re willing to be held to a high standard, but it can also make the other person more willing to listen.

4. Get the Logistics in Order

constructive criticismConstructive criticism can be hard to take for some people in the best of times, which is why you need to make sure that you get the logistics right. Don’t just walk up to their desk and start giving them constructive criticism. The more public any part of the meeting is, the more friction you’ll encounter. Send them an email scheduling a meeting to discuss their performance, and then make sure that the meeting is private

5. Focus on Improving Your Employee

It’s a small thing, but putting the focus on the employee and how they can do better can greatly improve how you deliver your constructive criticism. Keep how their failure affects the company succinct. Put most of your time towards talking about their performance and what both of you can do to make them better workers. This focus makes them feel important and minimizes the chances that they’ll think you’re just trying to shame them, which can make them deaf to your message.

Giving constructive criticism isn’t easy, but it’s necessary if you want to have the support needed to succeed as an entrepreneur. You likely won’t get it right the first time, and even when you have it down, some employees will simply be harder to talk to than others. That’s OK. You can’t win them all, but you should always try.


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