Constructive criticism in the workplace usually flows downward, with employers and management offering feedback to employees to guide them towards being more effective team members. Rarely does this same criticism flow upward, with employees being the ones offering the advice.
Yet, many employers are opening the way for their staff to do just that. According to this article from Medium, allowing workers to offer constructive criticism gives employers a chance to see how their management style affects staff and productivity and makes employees feel heard.
Here are four steps to accepting constructive criticism from employees.
Create a Safe Space
Employees may hesitate to say anything critical about their bosses, even when directly asked. Try to lessen the intimidation factor. Conduct these reverse progress reports in an informal setting. Consider gathering employees in a group instead of interviewing each one-on-one, preferably over a company-provided lunch. When all else fails, allow employees to provide feedback anonymously.
Resist That First Impulse
It’s natural to put up a wall when hearing something critical about oneself, but being defensive comes at the cost of losing a valuable opportunity to improve. Resist the urge to be defensive and instead listen. After all, employees know a great deal about the daily goings-on in the company. Their feedback can help improve managerial performance as well as overall company performance. Also, remember that constructive criticism isn’t about tearing a person down; it’s about offering helpful guidance.
Pave the way for a conversation by asking questions. The Muse points out that this isn’t the time to argue. Contradicting an employee’s perspective isn’t the way to go unless the reasons are very compelling. Instead, ask for specifics and even suggestions on how to handle things differently in the future. Ask what employees believe will improve production, efficiency and overall morale, and what management can personally do to aid in this.
At first, this will not be an easy process for either boss or employee. Giving constructive feedback is often as difficult as receiving it, especially when it is new for both parties. Therefore, employers should take the time to express honest gratitude for the information given.