Giving feedback is a delicate part of being a leader. It is far too easy to cross the line between offering a healthy critique and crushing a person’s spirit. Many leaders themselves are never coached on how they offer feedback to subordinates. As a result, even the most well intentioned leader can end up coming across as harsh or unreasonable. Here are 7 simple ways to critique without crushing spirits:

Start on a Positive Note. The old adage, “even a broken clock is right twice is day” is true. Always find something positive about the person even if your critique is valid. Make sure your statements are genuine and simple (ex:”I appreciate your commitment to this organization” or “Your energy lights up the office”).

Do It Yourself. Never critique a person through someone else. You are the leader. Sit the person down and tell them what they need to know. And show the person the respect to meet with you alone.

Stick to the Point. When offering a critique, avoid opening the “files” and blasting the person with a history of wrongs. What is the main area of opportunity you want to address? If you didn’t tell them about other faults months or years ago, it is unfair to unload it on them in one session.

Have all the Facts. Make sure your critique is not built upon what others said or mere perception but instead, gather and present facts about the activity, event, or project prior to the meeting.

Remember You Are Not Perfect. Have you ever considered the person may have failed because ofyour leadership? Did you make expectations clear? Are you asking too much? Evaluate the Ask before you evaluate the Task.

Allow a Response. Give the person an opportunity to explain what happened and what he or she can do better. Remember to listen and together, comprise a plan of action.

End on a Positive Note. You started positive, end positive. If the relationship is one that will continue, make sure there are no hard feelings and it is obvious the critique was done in love.

What other ways do you give feedback to those you lead?

–Pastor Anthony Cobbs
Breakthrough Ministry Consulting