“Constructive Criticism” In Small Businesses Must Be a Two-Way Street

It happens every time in my seminars and workshops.

Whenever I ask audience members to share their frustrations with communication in their workplaces this item always comes up.

It seems small business leaders and managers are frustrated that their direct reports don’t take “construction criticism” well.

I’m surprised that this surprises them.

So, I ask, “how good are you at receiving constructive criticism?”

Followed by, “and would you receive it well if they offered it?

Mostly I get blank stares.

It’s like giving feedback is a leader or managers’ birthright.

And, receiving feedback is not even on their radar screen.

Many factors go into providing job performance feedback, and a lot of different ways to do it.

But, the important point for this article is that if small business leaders want their people to be open to “constructive feedback,” they have to be role models for it.

It’s difficult for subordinates to feel comfortable providing constructive feedback to their bosses, the ones that hold an employee’s livelihood in their hands.

Bosses need to be even more diligent in asking for that constructive feedback and framing the conversation so employees believe there will be no repercussions.

Recently, one of my small business clients embarked on a 360 feedback process.

The four senior leaders in the company are awaiting results from an anonymous survey taken by 10 different employees.

My client, the owner of the firm, wanted to have all managers go through a 360 feedback process.

He knew the only way to do it was to go first. He is leading the way.

Are you?

Next time, you will learn a simple strategy to glean constructive feedback from your team members to be the role model.

Please leave a comment below. Tell me what you think and continue the conversation.

’til next time Communicate With Power!

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7 thoughts on ““Constructive Criticism” In Small Businesses Must Be a Two-Way Street

  1. Diane Bryant says:

    I always gather 360 Feedback – it is essential to ensure that I am not only doing what is expected of me but that the behaviors I am using to achieve the results are in keeping with our company values

  2. Ann May says:

    Great article! We all must be open to receiving and providing constructive feedback. Key word is constructive. Personally, I’ve learned by being open to receiving constructive criticism, I can improve myself. This was not the case in the beginning because I didn’t fully understand the potential benefits. The 360 degree feedback process can be very helpful, if everyone takes the time to provide feedback. Thanks for sending this link.

  3. Eduardo Estrada says:

    Hi Skip,

    I like this article. Usualy we made a “CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM” but anybody made nothing for the next steps. I think the leader should take the first step.

  4. A. K. M. Suzaur Rahman says:

    Well, let me tell a simple truth. No matter who is employer or employee/who is supervisor and who is subordinate, human nature don’t welcome any feedback or criticism whatever constructive it can be!!
    360 degree feedback system is a good process, but depends upon respectability, acceptability, trust and relationship between both side.
    So what if we totally erase the word feedback or evaluation from our office directory and replace those with “view sharing”/”finding out common understanding for more productivity”/”mutual assistance process”/”relationship flourishing through dialogue between employee and employer for betterment of company”. Why you should target person? You should focus on cooperation from both way for enhance productivity, efficiency and prosperity that would benefit the owners and staffs.

    There must not be a margin or gap between two side. All should be good friends irrespective of “who is what in a company?”
    These opinion may not please any of you, but I believe in these.

    Dr. Suzaur

  5. Vangie Garcia says:

    I agree with Dr. Suzaur that, in the end, it depends on respectability and trust. It is easy to say “I always gather 360 feedback” and I think most supervisors and managers truly believe they have an “open door policy”. The key is to not ask yourselves but to ask an outside perspective – do the direct reports feel like they can be honest in giving the feedback? Do they limit the feedback that they give because of past events? Before trying to do a 360 review process, a company has to take a really good look at the environment and the workplace culture before making that decision.

    From what I have seen and experienced, it is hard for organization leaders to admit that the culture is not ready to be honest with each other or that people do not feel safe in giving opinions. If you don’t put effort into building that culture, the 360 review process will be seen as a waste of time.

  6. Skip Weisman says:


    Good to hear from you. Thank you for your contribution to the conversation. You are absolutely correct, the culture must be in the right place and people must feel comfortable and safe in providing that feedback. And, the organizational leader must set the tone and be the role model for what they expect regarding feedback. It’s all based on “Trust,” which comes with the believe that “you have my best interests in mind and you are acting/communicating with the best of intentions.” This takes time to build or rebuild and needs to be the first focus of the work environment and culture development.
    Thanks, again for stopping by and being inspired to leave a comment that adds value to the discussion.

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