Criticism at the work spot is common. Not a day will go by without someone or the other expressing criticism of some kind. But take heed, if you wish to be critical of the government, a little discretion is necessary. If you wish to criticize your company, beware; if you feel like criticising your job, you had better look out for a new one and if you wish to criticize your department head, it's best you move to that new job now!
So is it wrong to criticize?
Criticism is disapproval. It is a point of view that questions or points out a mistake in a situation, a decision, an action or a policy. It is not wrong and it can be constructive if it is not directed at an individual or the organization and is not done publicly (which is the sole preserve of politics, politicians and the news media).
Take the example of a grocery store owner who was found berating his assistant for the long time that he was taking to pack groceries for the waiting customers, telling him that he is such a dull-head and that he never learns, no matter how many times he is told.
It’s not difficult to spot where the grocer is going wrong – He calls the assistant a dull-head, and in front of the customers; by doing so he has alienated both the assistant and the customers. The assistant feels personally insulted. He thinks the grocer is a habitual fault-finder and he loses his self-confidence; in the worst case scenario, he might just begin to intentionally delay as a silent payback to frustrate the grocer. As for the customers, they will develop a negative perception about the owner and the grocery store and will find themselves an efficient store with a cordial atmosphere, down the street.
When expressing criticism,
- Address the issue (not the individual)
- Suggest a remedy
- Allow the remedy time
- Assess change
- Appreciate and encourage
Constructive criticism at the workplace may be expressed at all levels and in fair measure, (read also Appreciation, Advice & Admonition) keeping in mind the teams’ and the organisation’s common, long-term goals. Constructive criticism is key to change and growth.