If you Google “performance review phrases” you will turn up more than 4 million sources offering advice such as how to deliver “good” feedback (the employee “is ready for any challenge”) to the “bad” review (the employee is “hostile to feedback or criticism.”)
The reason that millions of these sites exist is because delivering criticism to any worker often feels like handling a rattlesnake – a manager is never sure that it’s not going to turn around and bite him or her at some point. Criticism received badly can damage a relationship with a worker or even make the performance worse by demoralizing the employee.
, a performance consultant who has clients ranging from Morgan Stanley to Marriott, says that the biggest problem with criticism is that managers are often “unskilled givers” of criticism. In addition, workers haven’t been trained on how to be receptive to receiving criticism.
“I don’t think there’s a worker out there who says, ‘I can’t wait to get up for work and go have my boss tell me what I’m doing wrong’ – especially when I think I’m doing OK,” says Bright, author of “The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt.”
Bright says the biggest mistakes managers make
when offering criticism to workers is “they don’t understand the importance of thinking before they speak.”
“Once they open their mouth – even though they’re the boss – the power goes to the receiver (the worker),” she explains. “The receiver can challenge or reject or accept what is being said – and decide whether to do anything about it.”
The key, she stresses, is that a manager should first consider the question, “What is my purpose right now?”
“Think about what you’re going to say so that what you will say will be perceived as helpful. If not, zip your lip,” she advises.
It’s also important to lay a good foundation with a team so that they understand how feedback can help them be more successful, she says.
“My employees want feedback because they know that I’ve got business goals and their own career goals in mind,” she says. “They understand that criticism is a given in the workplace and they can’t make the assumption they’re perfect. You cannot escape criticism, and they know I want to manage them to their potential.”
Bright also advises that criticism should be delivered so that the employee is part of the solution. For example, instead of saying, “John, that presentation was poorly organized and wasn’t received well,” a manager can say something like, “John, what do you think you could have done differently?”
“When the manager is doing all the telling, then the employee feels like the manager is saying, ‘You’re stupid, so I have to tell you what to do,’” she says. “But when the manager (see more here