The Ultimate Guide to Constructive Criticism in the Workplace [2024]

August 26, 2021
8 Min Read
Photo by
Simon Oxley

‍Table of Contents:

What is constructive criticism?

Many people interchangeably use constructive criticism and constructive feedback as a way of giving specific, actionable suggestions for their careers. However, constructive criticism and feedback are not the same. Constructive criticism focuses on more of the bad than the good. 

Criticism is rarely productive. But feedback, on the other hand, is the breakfast of champions. So, let’s change that narrative. When implementing changes to help your team set and achieve their work goals, create a positive atmosphere where your peers feel comfortable raising questions, asking for help, and offering their feedback and ideas. 

That’s the difference between feedback and criticism. 

Why is constructive criticism important?

Here’s why feedback is monumental when it comes to your career: Constructive criticism is a valuable tool in the workplace that allows individuals to enhance skills, clarify expectations, build transparency, and boost confidence. 

But often, professionals don't recognize what a great resource it can be since feedback can sometimes come off as an attack. In reality, feedback, NOT criticism, can help all of us succeed in the workplace and in life.

Don’t believe us? Well according to an Officevibe report, about 82% of employees appreciate positive and negative feedback. And about 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week as opposed to 18% of low engagement employees. If you want your team and company to succeed, it all starts with feedback.

Here are just a few benefits that can be found when you make the most of the constructive criticism you receive:

  • Appreciate the new insight and perspective. As we said, criticism is hurtful and focuses solely on the bad. But remember, only you can control what you say and how you react. So, this is your opportunity to change your perspective, find the silver lining, and opens your eyes to things that were never considered. This is your moment to learn and grow your character.
  • Solidify long-lasting professional bonds. How you handle feedback and criticism can impact your relationships with your peers and leaders. Whether it's positive or negative, it’s important to show your gratitude. When you receive feedback, keep in mind that the person is personally invested in your future. That’s what having the best intentions means.
  • Cultivate a culture of transparency. When feedback is constantly practiced, honesty and candidness will naturally follow. With feedback and even criticism, the very act promotes a culture of honesty and proactiveness.

How to give constructive criticism

Before we discuss how to implement constructive criticism for folks who are in-office and remote, we recommend that you adopt these techniques when delivering constructive criticisms so your teammates feel supported instead of attacked.

  1. Thoughtfully share your observations. Let the record show we support feedback instead of criticism. That being said, when you give feedback, base it on your observations and facts. And when you communicate your observations, focus on delivering them in a way that uplifts and encourages your peer to make positive changes to their behavior.
  1. Pinpoint the areas of improvement. The line that lies between criticism and constructive feedback is recognizing the problem versus pointing out the problem. When you help your peers realize the areas of improvement and provide advice or suggestions together, that’s the difference between criticism and feedback.
  1. Maintain an appreciative tone. When delivering constructive criticism or feedback, maintain a respectful tone in your voice. How you say the feedback echoes more than what you say. That’s why we recommend being appreciative, supportive, and respectful when delivering your feedback.

How to implement and handle constructive criticism

Remember, feedback’s not easy to give and it’s certainly not easy to receive, but it’ll help in the long run. Here are the do’s when it comes to feedback

  • Catch your first reaction. Try not to react at all! We get it, that first piece of feedback can sting. But you must give yourself a moment to process before reacting right away. That means being conscious of any facial expression or disapproving body language.
  • Remind yourself of the benefits. Now that you’ve had a moment to catch and process that feedback, try to remind yourself of the benefits of receiving criticism and feedback  — no matter how it’s delivered. Because remember, only you can control how you react. See this as a way to improve your skills and relationships.
  • Take notes. As the person shares feedback with you, take notes. It’s easy to get lost in the thick of it and then have to remember what the person said at the moment. While you’re proactively listening, jot down high-level notes of the feedback. Once it’s your turn to talk, repeat the feedback to the person to ensure you were following along.
  • Ask questions. Don’t leave the feedback session without asking any clarifying and follow-up questions. And avoid debating the feedback and instead ask questions to get to the root of the actual issues and come to solutions.
  • Show your gratitude and say thank you. Whether it was feedback or criticism, express appreciation even if you don’t agree. All and all, uphold a professional rapport and tackle issues you believe are important to your growth.
  • Always follow up. Once everything is said and done, make moves for a follow-up meeting to discuss the next steps, progress, and any roadblocks.

Constructive criticism examples

There can be a lot of value in feedback when used properly. It helps people to grow, adapt, and become better versions of themselves. With different types of feedback available, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the most helpful method.

Constructive criticism software and apps

  • GetFeedback is survey software that can empower you to arrive at better decisions for your business. It integrates seamlessly with Salesforce to provide you with better and faster insights.
  • HubSpot is a customer feedback software that helps a business keep a complete eye on every lead and touchpoint to track the lead status.
  • Hppy helps you understand what factors are affecting employees' moods and morale over time. While leaders can customize questions, users can reply with three moods: happy, ok, or sad.
  • Matter (shameless plug) helps organizations build a culture of feedback and celebrate their team wins with public praise, continuous feedback, and Slack integration.
  • Weekdone is a feedback tool that requires teams to fill out their plans for the week and the progress they’ve made on their plans. It allows private employee discussions and feedback.
Start Employee Recognition, Rewards, & Surveys
Free Forever. 2 Minute Setup. No Credit Card Required.
Awwards cat
Awwards cat paws
Awwards ball purple
Awwards ball blue
More in
Performance & Feedback