Constructive criticism doesn't work - what to do?

5 valuable tips when constructive criticism doesn't seem to help!

Are you leading a team?

Your projects are a complete success in the end.

However, getting there is often a bit difficult, since one or more team members repeatedly prioritize insufficiently and deadlines are not met?

Here you will find concrete tips on what you can do as a manager!

Roman Fleischhackl

5 valuable questions for your solution:

Should I plan for buffers and backup-time?

Anyone who sets deadlines wisely should always plan buffers and leeway in order to still be able to deliver on time even if something unforseeable happens. However, if the failure to meet deadlines was not an isolated case but happens again and again, various strategies can be used to encourage employees to meet deadlines.

Am I asking too much? - When does unreliability start?

Do you often ask yourself whether you are asking too much or whether your employees are unreliable? To avoid unreliability you can take a few steps. Formulate your goals clearly and share them frequently and transparently. These goals must be communicated to your team clearly . It is also very important that you create a channel for your employees that allows them to question goals or to provide feedback, specificly on timing. This way, communication about your expectations becomes a trusted dialogue and your team can speak up if they have too much work to do or can't meet a deadline. If your employees only raise problems shortly before the deadline, this clearly counts as unreliability.

"If you keep getting feedback that you're asking too much, consider asking for input on the total workload before the project starts. You can either ask peers on the leadership team, or other people you trust."

And if, despite constructive criticism, a deadline is missed again?

Then it is your responsibility as a manager to say that this behavior is not acceptable, neither for yourself, nor for the team. It is important to show the team member that he/she harms the whole team with this behavior. This should be done in an open and clear conversation. It is up to you to consciously document such conversations. This means that details cannot be discussed afterwards.

There are also ways to help with external incentives. For example, you can suggest to your team to introduce a "reliability piggy bank“. Every time someone misses a deadline for no reason, money has to be thrown in. The team can then use the money to for a nice dinner for example at the end of an important project.

What do I do if I want to keep my employees, but changes are necessary?

Now is the time to have a structured conversation and implement a "Performance Improvement Plan (=PiP)". HR should be involved, possibly also the worker-council or other people depending on your company and the corporate culture. In this conversation, the misconduct is listed in writing and a change goal is agreed. The timing of re-evaluation is also specified (e.g. 3 or 6 months) and the consequences of non-compliance are clearly defined. These can range from a seminar on time management to termination fo the contract.

Overall, it's about connecting misconduct to clear consequences. You as a manger need to decide when it's the right time for such steps. However, not driving any change might pull down the moral of the entire team.

Did I miss an important aspect?

You should also consider whether you may have overlooked an important aspect. Is there a language barrier to consider or is there a possibility that he/she may not have understood you? Does the employee have a different cultural background and therefore has a different understanding of deadlines? Are there any other communication barriers? Do managers and employees have a trusted working relationship, or is there a conflict in hierarchy? Does the employee have private problems that make it difficult for him/her to meet the deadlines?

Are you leading a team and are you facing a challenge? Then I have something for you:  Sofort.Besser.Führen. (Currently available in German only)

This motto points to a virtual training format for managers, which is held every 2nd Wednesday of the month: the Harvard Case Studies. They follow a well established process and focus on a specific leadership case brought up by one of the participants.

Questions about the background result in new perspectives and options for action, concrete tips and possible solutions are compiled and ultimately also briefly summarized and relevant background information on methods and leadership knowledge. Our participants describe this format as “highly efficient” and “exciting”. Read more here! (German language only)