11 Constructive Criticism Writing Examples to Produce Results

Alex
August 25, 2021
6 Min Read
Photo by
Julia Hanke

Table of Contents:

About constructive criticism

You have likely had your fair share of constructive criticism. It is a powerful tool that can be used to help people grow and learn, but let’s face it, constructive criticism can also hurt feelings. Creating a work culture that values and encourages constructive feedback is key. According to an article by the Harvard Business Review, 92% of people agreed that negative feedback, when delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance. This is why it’s important to know the difference between constructive and destructive criticism and have the skills to deliver the appropriate kind.

One thing is certain, you need to know how to give and receive corrective criticism. Whether you are writing constructive criticism for a team member at work or someone personally close to you, here are some constructive criticism examples to use as guidelines for how to give constructive criticism in writing effectively.

Constructive criticism writing examples

Example 1: Team member lacks organization

Describe the specific situation. For example: “When we were working on Project X you posted all of our meeting notes in one folder and didn’t label them correctly which made it hard for everyone on the team to find what they were looking for quickly.”

Avoid judgmental language that seems like a personal attack. For example: “You can never find anything in that folder when we need it!”

Include constructive feedback on what the person should do next time. For example: “Please label each file with your name or initials and add a date before uploading to share so that everyone knows when you worked on it and who they should contact if there is a problem with the information.”

Example 2: Team member constantly misses deadlines

Describe the specific situation. For example: “Every time I ask for a project update from you, you don’t get back to me until two days after our deadline has passed which means we miss out on potential clients because we didn’t deliver on time.”

Avoid judgmental language. For example: “You never meet your deadlines! You’re terrible at this job!”

Include actionable feedback on what the person should do next time. For example: “I would like to see more frequent updates and expect them by the deadline at the latest, but I understand you will need help setting those expectations with other team members as well as yourself to make sure we stay within our timeframe for each project. Thank you for taking my honest feedback seriously and working on improvement.”

Example 3: Team member is not a team player

Describe the specific situation. For example: “Your off-topic comments during our meetings have been distracting the other team members and causing them to lose focus on the main tasks at hand.”

Avoid judgmental language. For example: “We can never get anything done because you keep talking about your weekend plans during our meetings!”

Include constructive feedback on what the person should do next time. For example: “I would like for us to respect each other by keeping our conversations related to work only during the meetings, please. If you have an issue with another member of the group, maybe come to me or someone else privately instead of prompting it during the meeting where everyone can hear your side of things.”

Example 4: Team member doesn't take initiative

The lack of initiative is fairly common in the workplace in recent times. In fact, according to a 2020 Gallup poll, only 20% of workers are engaged at work. 

Describe the specific situation. For example: “We never make any progress on our projects because you always wait for someone else to take the lead.”

Avoid judgmental language. For example: “What is wrong with you? Why don’t you ever step up and take initiative? You’re so lazy!”

Include actionable feedback on what the person should do next time. For example: “If there are certain aspects of a project that you enjoy, I would love it if you could take lead on those pieces while also collaborating with others who may be better suited for other parts. If there is something, in particular, holding you back from taking more leadership roles, let me know so we can work together to address that issue in a constructive way.”

Example 5: Team member doesn't communicate enough

Describe the specific situation For example: “I feel like I am always in the dark with what you are working on because you don’t share your progress with me until it is already finished. If we work better together I think our efficiency will increase drastically.”

Avoid judgmental language. For example: “You need to tell me what you are working on before anyone else! You never communicate anything! You need to get yourself together!”

Include written feedback on what the person should do next time. For example: “When sharing projects with other team members, I would appreciate it if you could send out updates for everyone at least once a week, even if it is simply status updates. Let me know what you need from me to make sure we both stay on the same page and achieve our goals as a team.”

Example 6: Team member lacks time management

According to the Development Academy, 82% of people surveyed do not have a time management system. This could be due to the lack of education on this topic.

Describe the specific situation. For example: “We constantly miss deadlines because you don’t manage your time properly. You never meet your deadlines!”

Avoid judgmental language. For example: “What the heck is wrong with you? How do you expect to be promoted if you can’t even do this easy task at work?!”

Include constructive feedback on what the person should do next time. For example: “I would love it if you could set aside time at the beginning of each project to create a schedule for yourself that outlines what needs to be done by when. Let’s do this together so you can see how I manage my own work and we can improve our efficiency as a team.”

Example 7: Team member sticks only to his or her job description

Describe the specific situation. For example: “It is really frustrating because you don’t understand your role on the team. All you care about is doing your job; it doesn’t matter to you that other people are struggling because they aren’t getting enough help from us!”

Avoid judgmental language. For example: “You need to do your part and not just stick to your job description! You need to step up and help everyone else before we get in trouble for not doing our jobs properly.”

Include constructive feedback on what the person should do next time. For example: “I know you might not feel comfortable doing tasks outside of your role, but I would love it if you could lend a hand when needed so we can be completely successful as a team. Let me know what specific areas you would like some extra support in and we can come up with a plan together.”

Example 8: Team member is disengaged in team meetings

Describe the specific situation. For example: “You never contribute during our group, it is like you’re checked out. This brings our team to a standstill and we can’t function the way we need to. I wish you would participate more and take constructive feedback!”

Avoid judgmental language. For example: “What is your deal? How do you expect people to respect you as a member of this team when you don’t give anything back? You never contribute anything! We all hate working with you. Get it together, man.”

Include constructive feedback on what the person should do next time. For example: “I have noticed that sometimes it seems hard for you to jump into conversations at first, so instead of waiting for someone to acknowledge or include you in the group, why don’t you just jump in? This will definitely help the team become more efficient and it would be great to see you contribute. Let’s practice this together so you feel more comfortable speaking up in the future!”

Example 9: Team member has a negative attitude

Describe the specific situation. For example: “It is really frustrating when you always bring such a negative attitude to work. When I ask for constructive critique on an idea or project you shoot me down without offering any advice or constructive feedback. It is hard to get anywhere with your bad attitude.”

Avoid judgmental language. For example: “Get over yourself and stop being such a Debbie Downer all the time!”

Include constructive feedback on what the person should do next time. For example: “I would love it if you were able to approach negative feedback with a positive attitude instead of always assuming I’m wrong. Let’s practice this together so it is easier for you to receive effective feedback in the future. This will make it easier for us to all work more efficiently as a team and make our group stronger.”

Example 10: Team member is a poor listener

Describe the specific situation. For example: “It feels like we can never finish a conversation because you aren’t listening, which makes me feel frustrated and unimportant as your coworker. Please be present and focus on what I’m saying. Stop multitasking!”

Avoid judgmental language. For example: “You NEVER pay attention to me when we are talking, it is like you don’t even care! You need to get your act together and listen to the people around you.”

Include a suggestion or two on what the person should do next time. For example: “I know it might be hard for you because you are so used to multitasking at work, but try practicing active listening with me. It will make conversations go a lot quicker if we both understand each other better and focus on sharing our thoughts instead of trying to talk over each other all the time! Let’s practice this together with a little every day and see what a difference it makes to our group dynamic!”

Example 11: Team member is underperforming

Describe the specific situation. For example: “I don’t think you are grasping the project we are working on. It feels like you aren’t grasping your role here and you aren’t doing what I need you to do. Can we go over the higher expectations that I have for our team? Let’s talk about how we can get you up to speed so we can finish this project together with a positive outcome!”

Avoid judgmental language. For example: “You suck at your job, get out of my office and leave me alone! How did you even get this job, what a joke!”

Include constructive feedback on what the person should do next time. For example: “I know it is frustrating when you aren’t given direction or constructive criticism that helps you improve, but I can see how hard you are trying and that means a lot to me! Let’s look at your previous projects together and make a plan for how we can work better on the new project going forward!”

Software to help you write constructive criticism

Take some of the work out of creating a team culture that values constructive criticism by utilizing software that will streamline the feedback process. Matter is an effective free Slack app to provide general feedback, praise, and be more consistent in doing both.

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Recognize your team members with Kudos (praise) and constructive feedback.
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