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Enhancing Your Management Skills: Criticizing Without Causing Loss of Morale

When you’re in a position where you must "criticize" people, it is important to have an approach that doesn’t destroy morale. The "Sandwich" approach is a good, professional method to insure change without the loss of good employees.

Is it possible to criticize someone and not “hurt” them? Yes, it is. No person I know likes to be criticized. Why is that?

As an executive vice-president I had to do a lot of “teaching.” I had to do a lot of “correcting.” It wasn’t always easy. I had “jumped” seven vice-presidents when I was promoted to CEO status. Further the company was woefully behind in many areas including Equal Opportunity.

I learned quickly that anytime I made suggestions it was viewed as criticism. Further, when I did “criticize” people became angry; it affected their work.

How is it possible to tell someone something negative and not lose their participation at work?

While the insurance company that I worked for was small, I still was “in charge” of 300 people. Let me assure you that it is important to know about each person. There are times when a CEO is called on to “manage” at most any level of the company. Further, if you try and “correct” the behavior or work habits of a person, or, if you have no interaction other than to “criticize” them you will get nowhere.

I made it a point first to get to know every employee. Then I had a meeting with each one.

The way to help a person improve their value to the company is to use the “sandwich” approach to improvement. The sandwich approach is really very simple.

When I first meet with someone the first thing I do is to give them a compliment on their work. Believe it or not it is possible to find something positive about the work behavior of most any employee. That is the bottom piece of the sandwich. After that I “gently suggest” a change in one thing they are doing that I would like to see done differently. I then ask if they have questions about how to technically handle the change. That is the “meat” of the sandwich.

Finally I thank the person for their hard work and effort on behalf of the company and if possible I find another compliment. This is of course is the top piece of the sandwich..

As a past business owner I found that no matter what the business, it wasn’t going to go far if the workers didn’t want it to.

As a manager or owner at any level if the workers in the business are overlooked, the future of the business is not bright.

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