Delivering Criticism

Have you ever had a great day ruined by someone's careless comment? Well, if you're the "boss," your words are unfortunately even more powerful.

I remember a boss many years ago who was known to send out angry tirades late at night. We all dreaded seeing her name in our inbox past 8 pm.

And then there was a manager I worked with who would rant at her employees in front of others.

First let me say that there is never an excuse to raise your voice at a colleague, employee, or anyone else in a professional setting. That is unprofessionalism at its highest.

Second, if your goal is to help you and your team succeed, then think twice—or maybe even a third time—about how you will deliver that criticism. I believe it should always be done privately, always about the mistake and not the person, and always about helping them learn from that mistake.

If you're not doing it to help them succeed, then you shouldn't be managing them to begin with.

This also applies to your clients and service providers. Whenever you have leverage over someone's livelihood, your words have a disproportionate power to do harm that you hopefully don't intend.

I'm not going to say never deliver criticism via email (because it has its benefits), but if it's late at night and/or you're stressed, don't send it until you've put it aside and reread it to be sure the message being relayed is the one intended.

Otherwise you will have an employee who probably will lose sleep over your email; who will be demotivated, tired, and less productive the next day; and who you may end up losing unless you take the time to clear the air and do better.

Takeaway: Be careful how and when you deliver criticism and always make it about them learning from their mistake.


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