No hard feelings: how to properly criticize employees

Business owners, top managers and executives at any level are people. And people are inherently emotional. Negative emotions lead an executive to conflict situations in the team and subsequently turn into company problems. “Snapping” at employees, switching to personalities, shouting, incorrect dismissals – I am sure that many managers would like to turn back the clock and act differently in such cases. Often we even convince and reassure ourselves that there was no other way out…

Unfortunately, a manager necessarily needs to give negative feedback to an employee when things are really bad, without this it is impossible to manage people. The difficulty is that when criticizing an employee, it is important not to reduce his or her level of creativity and desire to work. After all, if an employee starts feeling like a useless specialist after communicating with his manager, it will affect his work and can ultimately lead to losing a valuable member of the team. It is necessary to criticize so that the employee will have even more desire to work, it will strengthen the team and save the nerves of the manager. To do this, you should adopt a few rules for yourself.

The leader’s beacon is the result

The word “criticism” used to be used synonymously with the word “analysis”. Now many people associate this word with devaluing or insulting a person. In fact, it is an objective and comprehensive evaluation of some result, to monitor results it is better to use third party software¬†office working hours tracking.

To ensure that criticism of subordinates does not lead to unnecessary frustrations, you should always proceed from the result and assess only it, not the personal qualities of the employee. After all, the result cannot be insulted!

When an executive says to a marketer: “What is this! You’re supposed to be qualified, aren’t you?”, more often than not he wants to say that he has done a bad job. But under the influence of emotions, frustration and anger it turns out that it is not the result that is bad, but the marketer. The correct formulation is something like this: “In the last week we have a drop in the number of requests. This result is no good. We need to fix the situation next month”.

By talking about the result, you cut off the possibility of conflict at the root, because you are not insulting the employee, but you are drawing his attention to the negative results of work, which are really inadequate. It is difficult to insult the results, as they are expressed in terms of performance – they are either achieved or not, and you should talk about it without epithets and superfluous adjectives. Of course, this will also upset the employee, but will not kill his desire to invest in work.

Anger needs to be channeled properly

If emotions do arise and a wave of anger hits, it should be directed at the situation, not at the employee. It is one thing to say, “Why the hell isn’t this done? How many times do I have to repeat myself?”, and it’s quite another to say, “Are you even capable or not of understanding something the first time?!”

Avoid “you, you” and use the neutral “done, received” instead of “made, received”. If emotion is involved, the “you” may be followed by an inadvertent insult or simply an inappropriate remark about an employee that cannot be returned.

When emotions run high, remember to ask yourself the question: What do I want to achieve? I don’t believe that any manager can give an answer like “I want to offend the employee. More often than not, you just want the job done and are upset that it didn’t happen.

It’s not healthy to be patient

Conflicts and escalation of personalities are often the result of a manager’s emotional breakdowns. Two other reasons contribute to the emergence of negative emotions:


  • the employee is constantly making mistakes or has been unable to complete a task for a long period of time;
  • the supervisor does not give negative feedback, does not express dissatisfaction and accumulates irritation.


Many tolerate the mistakes of their subordinates to the bitter end. As a result, when a similar situation happens for the third, fourth, fifth time, the manager runs out of patience and begins to cut heads off. If you want to save nerves and criticize “cleanly”, do not accumulate negative emotions. Criticize as soon as an unimpressive result appears. If the supervisor doesn’t say what he or she is unhappy about, the employee doesn’t understand what the fault is. The supervisor then thinks the employee is either stupid or intentionally sabotaging the work. And the employee thinks the supervisor is just picking on him or her for no reason. It is at this point that the personality shift occurs. The supervisor and employee begin to think of each other as people rather than the overall result of their work. This has the potential to move from work conflict to interpersonal conflict.