How to Give Constructive Criticism

by | Oct 11, 2018


Giving criticism can be difficult but it is an important to skill to master, especially if you want a caregiver to make improvements. Keep in mind the following items when critiquing a caregiver.


How To Give Constructive Criticism [1] [2]

1.  Use the Feedback Sandwich method

The Feedback Sandwich method is a popular way to give constructive criticism.  In this method, you “sandwich” constructive criticism between two pieces of praise or positivity.  The “sandwich” should consist of “positive-improvement-positive” feedback. The first item in the feedback focuses on strengths and positivity – what the caregiver does well.  Opening the conversation with positivity lets your caregiver know you are not trying to attack them. Moreover, it sets the focus on positivity instead of focusing only on the areas for improvement.  The second item is the criticism – areas that the caregiver needs to improve. Finally, the feedback rounds out with either positive results to be expected after the criticism is acted upon, or a reiteration of the first positive comments.  Ending with positive comments is helpful as it leaves the caregiver on a high note rather than a bad one. Additionally, it reminds the caregiver that they have great skills that are valuable to the agency.


2.  Don’t focus on the caregiver, focus on the situation

Detach the caregiver from the situation.  It’s very critical to focus on the behavior, situation, action, etc. instead.  One technique to accomplish this is to remove the “you” voice. For instance, instead of saying “you are late” say “the care is delayed.”  Never make personal attacks or comments and be sure to use a passive voice. Using a passive voice moves the attention away from the caregiver and places it on the subject matter.  For example, instead of saying “you gave poor care” say “the level of care you gave was poor.”  With passive voice, the subject becomes the level of care rather than the caregiver. 


3.  Use “I” language 

One way to create a positive tone is to use “I” language.  For example, say “I want you to be on time” instead of “you’re never on time.”  Do not appear stern or angry as that will cause the caregiver to become defensive.


4.  Give specific feedback

Specific feedback is actionable feedback.  Giving general or vague criticism is not helpful and does not produce results.  To prevent this, break your feedback down into key items or points. Within each point, give specific examples of the exact situation in which the caregiver exhibits behaviors you highlighted in the main point.  One to two specific examples in each point is plenty. Doing so will easily illustrate your criticism and bring awareness to things the caregiver may not realize. 


5.  Comment on actionable items

Discuss items that the caregiver can change, not items that are out of their control.  The purpose of feedback is to help caregivers improve, not to harp on things they can’t.


6.  Give specific recommendations on how to improve

Recommendations will complete the discussion in a helpful manner.  Providing specific recommendations will give your caregiver a concrete idea of the improvements they should make.  Therefore, it will prevent the caregiver from seconding guessing your criticism and will steer them in the right direction.  Furthermore, recommendations provide a call-to-action, allowing your caregiver to make necessary changes right away. Also be sure to explain the reasoning behind the recommendation to make them extra clear.   


7.  Never make assumptions 

Only keep the facts you know about the caregiver and situation in mind when critiquing.  Do not make assumptions. This will place you and the caregiver in a negative light, especially when your assumptions are wrong.  


8.  Be conscious of timing

Know the appropriate time to give feedback.  Inappropriate timing will make the caregiver reject your comments, whereas appropriate timing will make your caregiver receptive to them.  


9.  Utilize an anecdote

Consider giving the criticism through the form of a personal account and include the positive results that occurred after the improvements were made.  This will make the critiques easier to handle as it provides an example of someone else experiencing the same difficulties.

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