Part V Supplementary Materials
When it's necessary to criticise the work of colleagues it is important to do so in a manner that is supportive and that permits the other person find ways of improving his or her performance. To do this we need to
Concentrate on the error, not on the person
Provide specific examples of the problems that need attention
Make helpful suggestions for improvement
Avoid a one-sided attack
Avoid insinuations and hints
Conduct the criticism in private so as not to humiliate the other person
Read the dialogue below and make a note of the ways in which John fails to observe the advice given above in his criticisms of Mary's work
John Come in and take a seat, Mary. This won't take a minute.
Mary What's this all about, John
John Well I'm sorry Mary, but I've come to the conclusion that your work's just not up to scratch. I need to see a big improvement if you want to stay here.
Mary I see. I admit I have found these first few weeks a hard, but I need time to settle in and there's a lot to learn.
(Knock at the door)
John Come in.
Jane Oh, sorry John, I'll come back later, I didn't realize you were talking.
John That's all right, come in. I was just telling Mary that I don't think she's really up to the job here.
Jane No, I don't want to intrude on a private conversation; I'll come back later.
Mary So what are you saying John, are you firing me
John No; but I have to say that if this little talk doesn't make you realize where you're going wrong, it may come to that.
Poor Mary! John has just attacked the standard of her without giving her any idea of where she is going wrong; on top of that he's repeated the criticism in front of another member of staff.
By using some of the suggestions below, see if you can rewrite the dialogue so that John offers Mary constructive and positive criticism that will help her to improve her performance
Invite Mary to a private interview
Ask if she is ready to discuss the standard of her work
Acknowledge the fact that she is new to the company and that there is a lot to learn
Say that her reports are lacking in detail and accuracy
Ask her if she is aware of that
Say that she is often late in the morning
Ask her if there are personal problems that make it difficult for her to arrive on time
Say that some of the clients she deals with have complained that she misses appointments
Ask her if she can explain why this is
Ask her if there is anything you can do to help her improve in these areas.
Set a date for another talk in a few weeks to review her progress.
If John conducts the interview along these lines, Mary will
Know exactly which aspects of her work are unsatisfactory
Will have the opportunity to explain why she has problems
Will not be publicly humiliated
Will feel that she is getting support in her efforts to improve.