There’s no way around it -- as a manager, you must give employees constructive criticism so they can grow and improve.
No one likes criticsm, but good leaders know how to deliver it so that employees don’t feel crushed or inadequate. Here are a few tips for criticizing staff the right way from Ben Yoskovitz’s article "5 Steps To Providing Good Constructive Criticism":
Make it a conversation, not a lecture. You should never simply tell an employee what she did wrong and how she should fix it, and then send her out of your office. Interact with employees and let them be part of the process. Yoskovitz suggests asking questions like: "What do you think of my assessment?" and "What do you think of your recent performance?"
Be clear about why the criticism is important. Instead of just telling an employee what he needs to improve or what his error was, explain why it’s important to correct. For example: You may tell him he goofed up by doing a report in Word instead of Excel. But he might think you’re just being picky unless you explain that the report figures need to be exported into a database, which is easier if they’re in Excel.
Add positives to your criticism. There are two points in the conversation when you can build an employee’s confidence with positive reinforcement, says Yoskovitz. Start with complimentary feedback before you even begin your constructive criticism. Then, turn your solutions into positive resolutions. Otherwise, your employee may feel that there’s no way to improve or compensate for an error or poor performance.