Constructive Criticism?

“Never criticize, condemn or complain,” – Dale Carnegie.

To provide corrective feedback or constructive criticism may spring from a noble intent, AND the effort is futile, likely counterproductive to correcting a behavior or increasing the level of performance.

As a manager, are you required to deliver both positive feedback and corrective feedback?


Delivering positive feedback is the easier of the two.

It is the corrective feedback that consternates most managers. Sometimes, delivering corrective feedback is so uncomfortable that managers avoid the conversation altogether.

Managerial effectiveness does not come from telling people what to do. Managerial effectiveness comes from asking the most effective questions.

Positive feedback – a strength I saw in your project, was your adherence to the schedule you created in the planning stage. The reason I say that is most people don’t have a plan, even if they do, they rarely use it to effectively guide the project.

Corrective feedback – if you had to do the same project again, what would you do differently? What impact would that have on the outcome of the project? If you made that change in the project, how would that look in the planning stage? What change would that make to the schedule? Who would need to be in the loop about this change?

The most effective managers are those that ask the most effective questions. And, it doesn’t sound like criticism.

3 thoughts on “Constructive Criticism?

  1. Ash

    I feel like I’d be going a lil “Seventh Heaven” if I went with the question time of the corrective feedback. Like “Have you learned your lesson now?”. How would I bring it up without giving this feeling to the feedback recipient?

    1. Becky Halvorsen

      I like how Tom phrased it – if you had to do the same project again, what would you do differently? I think that would open up a dialogue without the employee getting defensive.

  2. Becky Halvorsen

    I loved today’s blog! Asking questions as a means to help the employee walk through their decisions and learn about how things could be different, brilliant! That way it is the employee correcting themselves by learning. I’ve passes this along to all of my supervisors and managers!


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