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Is It Criticism or Is It Feedback?

When you want to see an improvement in work performance from your team, how do you frame your comments? Do you give criticism, or do you give productive feedback? The way you approach and convey the change you want to see is key. You want to push them in a new direction, but not take the air out of their tires entirely!

In today’s work-driven society, personal identity and sense of self are often closely tied to professional achievement. When we tell a teammate or ourselves that we want to see a change in performance, it is important to approach the request in a way that encourages instead of impedes future performance. Poorly delivered feedback can cause more disruption and delay than necessary.

Guide yourself and your team toward meaningful change with the help of these four tips:

Focus on Your Desired Outcome: When we approach the conversation of behavior modification, we may think it’s best to make an argument for why the unwanted action is negative, wrong, inefficient, etc. Instead of approaching someone with actions you want them to avoid, which suggests the person and their choices are an issue, meet them with clear suggestions for the actions they should take instead. Use this positive method, which will energize them and encourage them to embrace this new approach. The same rule applies for self-feedback: if you realize you’ve been inefficient or making mistakes, don’t beat yourself up! Instead, change your behaviors and don’t look back.

Be Future-Minded: Don’t dwell in the past. Leaders who demand explanations for mistakes and fixate on unwanted behaviors do nothing for the team and organization’s progress. Frame your feedback in terms of future solutions, not present frustrations. This helps make your desired change feel doable and put the eyes of all involved in a positive place, which is on the horizon ahead.

Focus on Strengths: You want your team to approach their work feeling confident and ready to tackle the day. In order to encourage change, without creating psychological interference, filter your feedback through your listener’s strengths, not their weaknesses. Strengths play into action, while the topic of “weaknesses” only breeds doubt.

Mistakes and “weaknesses” get a bad rap! They are often misunderstood as failings in a person, when really these are opportunities for improvement, either of the individual or of the work processes around them.

Isolating Language: Even if someone has made a mistake, avoid telling this person that “They are the problem.” Instead, frame your feedback from a place of “We can solve this together.” The moment you start to negatively isolate someone, this raises the risk of lower productivity, poor decision making, and possible loss of the person all together.

Your success relies on your team as much as it does you. If your team members don’t feel valued, fulfilled, or welcomed, they eventually will start looking elsewhere. Similarly, if you are someone who is highly self-critical, you are taking the wind out of your own sails. Keep your mind focused on positive action instead. 

Professional communication translates to professional success. Learn more ways to excel and succeed as a leader at the Syncis Money Blog