Constructive Criticism

In Creating Happiness, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

As part of the completion of the fiscal year at our office on September 30th comes the Performance Evaluations.  Those were shared with each employee yesterday and I must admit that I have never seen such a sad situation.  The silence was deafening.  So many people were extremely upset and this was played out in so many different ways.  I am not sure that our department will ever be able to recover from the results.

Although I personally was satisfied with the evaluation that I received, that was not the case for a number of others who shared the results of their evaluations with me.  And there were many more employees who did not share but the outcome was fairly evident.  And although some people would say that I should not care about anyone but myself, I can’t buy into that belief since I work with these people every day and how they feel and how they respond does affect their attitude and their future job performance and the interactions that they have with others with whom they work and that includes me.

The common factor that was evident in all of the evaluations that greatly upset these employees is what is commonly referred to as “constructive criticism”.  Personally I don’t believe in this.  Criticism by any other name is still criticism and I do not believe that anyone, under any circumstances, will benefit and/or grow as a person by being criticized.  Many will argue that if you don’t provide such criticism, then people believe that they are perfect and have nothing on which to improve.  That is ridiculous and just another excuse for bad behavior, in my opinion.  If you are accorded a role where you evaluate other people and you feel that at the end of the performance year that you need to criticize any of those people then you have not done your job.  As a rater, you should have noticed/noted those areas throughout the year where each person needed to improve and worked with them to make it happen so that by the end of the year when it came time to evaluate, you could have noted those improved areas instead.

By logical progression, I can also see how criticism of others in my personal life is of no value either.  I can’t think of one time where my criticism of another helped them in any way nor can I think of one time when someone criticized me that it made me a better person.  I am hoping that by realizing the impact that criticism has on another person that I will stop myself before I criticize ever again. 

In the interim, I have spoken and worked with my co-workers in helping them to realize all of the accomplishments they have made in the past year and to appreciate themselves for them.  And very gently, we discussed what happened that resulted in the criticism that they received and decided how it would be beneficial to them to set goals for the next year that would position them to improve in those areas.

This is no different than anything else in our lives.  We support and help others who are going through physical problems such as cancer or heart disease or need help because of incapacitating surgeries.  Helping those who are going through a tough time on the job, those who are struggling with a poor self-image, those who have lost all confidence in themselves and those who can only see themselves in their failings and mistakes is no different.   Helping others in positive ways is always the answer and the more we all do this, the greater difference we can make for everyone including ourselves.

What are your views on constructive criticism? COMMENTS