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close this bookHundred Tips for a Better Management (Aga Khan Foundation, 1993, 70 p.)
close this folderCriticising performance
View the document83. Don't be afraid to offend; just don't be offensive in your approach69
View the document84. Take care of mistakes when they are small; do not allow them to grow, they will get more complicated
View the document85. How to handle anger70
View the document86. How to manage conflict71

83. Don't be afraid to offend; just don't be offensive in your approach69

Give a lot, expect a lot, and if you don't get it, prune. Tom Peters, Management Expert

Great emphasis is placed on giving positive feedback. Yet sometimes a manager must discuss poor performance with staff and give negative feedback. When people make mistakes, and it is your job to correct them, remember that people may not always respond well to criticism.

What you can do is to deliver your criticism in a constructive way, that is:

  • Be clear and specific about what you perceive to be the problem.


  • Listen to their point of view. Give them a chance to explain their performance.


  • Don't dwell on a mistake or problem. Keep it and its solution in proportion.


  • Don't attack, blame, or vent your anger. Speak calmly and firmly, and try to address the other person as a well-intentioned, responsible person.


  • Discuss how to resolve the problem and together identify ways to avoid such problems in the future.

84. Take care of mistakes when they are small; do not allow them to grow, they will get more complicated

Everyone makes mistakes. Depending on how a manager deals with mistakes, they can contribute to learning and building of responsibility, or they can serve to reinforce failure and negative attitudes. Help people identify the factors that contributed to the error, the possible repercussions and the best way to proceed.

A man who has made a mistake and doesn't correct it is making another mistake. (Confucius)

Try to respond to mistakes soon after they are identified. Correct mistakes when they are small to prevent them from becoming more serious in the future. Point out to the party involved that:

  • A mistake was made/exists


  • How it arose/what made it happen


  • How to learn from it; how to cope with it differently if it arises again so as not to repeat it.


  • How to fix it, address the consequences.


  • Ignoring a mistake allows it to grow or fester into something harmful and difficult to correct. Even if it seems trivial or not worth the time, make the effort to resolve it.

85. How to handle anger70

Anger is natural. It is OK to be angry once in a while. What is important is how you express it when you are angry and how you deal with an angry staff person. Anger is a severe reaction to frustration, a reaction to having our needs or desires blocked, particularly if we believe that the block is arbitrary or unreasonable.

If you are angry: Acknowledge it, determine what made you angry, and express your anger through the "RDA technique" (Resent, Demand, Appreciate), i.e.,

  • Resent: I don't like our staff playing computer games during working hours


  • Demand: I expect this place to be run like a professional office


  • Appreciate: You are all valuable professionals; let's keep it like that.


If one of your staff gets angry: Get the person away from co-workers, allow the person to express his or her anger, find out the facts, and identify the cause of the anger, and confront the problem.

86. How to manage conflict71

Conflicts occur because of differences in beliefs or because authority is not clearly delineated, or just because people simply cannot get along. Don't take sides in a conflict, act as an arbitrator and listen to both sides, and evaluate the evidence as objectively as possible. Come to a resolution that is agreeable to both parties.

If you are involved in a conflict and tempers are running high, go somewhere to be alone until emotions cool. Avoid confrontation until you can communicate constructively.

Some suggestions to resolve a conflict:

  • Analyse what has happened. Bring reason and logic to bear on the problem. Try to think about what is really involved. Is the conflict fired by a long-standing problem, or is it a product of circumstance, such as having a bad morning?
  • Take your time
  • Avoid defensiveness
  • Avoid deception
  • Be willing to admit mistakes and allow others to graciously admit mistakes
  • Avoid assumptions
  • Once dealt with, put the issue behind you and do not dwell on it.