Offering constructive criticism can be awkward. Sometimes the receiver doesn’t handle criticism well, and other times the giver butchers the delivery.
But, as Sarah Thompson, the global and New York chief executive of advertising firm Droga5, pointed out in the New York Times series “Corner Office,” “I think sometimes people confuse being too critical or demotivating with really helping somebody be great. Sometimes people just need to be told so they can pivot.”
Clear feedback is a crucial part of being a leader and pushing your employees to be their best. Who wants to hear six months too late that they should have handled a situation differently? But the feared awkwardness of offering criticism may stop leaders from giving advice to their reports when it matters the most.
“There is a way to show people that you believe in them. It’s not about being critical,” Thompson said. “It’s about setting them up for success and having a very fluid back-and-forth. But people often wait for the annual review to tell someone they are failing on five different levels.”
Giving feedback to your employees in the moment and on a consistent schedule can enable them to be more agile, grow more quickly and contribute at a greater rate. Don’t let the fear of offering a critical eye hurt your team.