The six rules of criticising employees | SupportBiz

Human Resources

The six rules of criticising employees

Criticism is an important part of human resource management in a business. It provides the employee feedback about the work done by them, indicates to them areas in which they are lacking, and provides them ideas to help them improve in these areas.

However, criticism can be taken badly by the employees, and can lead to disastrous effects. It is, hence, necessary to provide criticism in the right way to employees, so that it has just the desired effects.

SupportBiz tells you of the six important rules of criticising employees for a small business owner.

Treat it as feedback

The term ‘criticism’ has a negative connotation, while ‘feedback’ implies a positive, interactive, constructive interaction between the employees and the employer. It is a good idea to treat a criticism session as one of feedback. That way, the employee will be more receptive to your words, and you get an opportunity to understand your business from his/her perspective.

Make it a continuous process

Make the process of criticism a continuous one. Do not wait for the right moment or the end-of-year reviews to offer your employees criticism on the work done by them. That is bound to raise their hackles, and fuel their frustration.

Provide criticism to each of your employees on an ongoing basis, at regular intervals of time. Do not make it a sudden affair.

Don’t get personal

Ensure that you do not get too personal while criticising an employee. Discuss the problem that you and the employee are facing at work, and do not target the employee as a person.

Ask questions

In the process of criticism, ask questions like ‘Why do you think the targets have not been achieved?’ or ‘What can we do to improve performance in the time to come?’ These questions provoke the employee to introspect, share their problems, and come up with their own solutions. It also makes the process of criticism less negative and more constructive for the employee.


Do not make the giving of criticism a one-way process; it should be an interactive, two-way process. Be willing to listen to the problems being faced by the employee, his/her interests and motivations. It is essential to be receptive and acknowledge the situation from the point of view of the employee. Listening attentively, instead of passively doling out criticism, helps you understand the employee better, so that you can work out better ways to solve the issue at hand or change his/her behaviour. It also helps you build a better and lasting relationship with your employees.

Balance the negatives and positives

Barrelling an employee with only negatives about him/her and his/her performance will only serve to increase their hostility and negativity. It is advisable to balance the positives and the negatives during the process of criticism. Even out the harsh things you have to say to the employee with honest compliments about his/her good qualities/performance.