The Correct Way to Correct

If you are in leadership, sooner or later you'll have to give correction or constructive criticism to your team. This isn’t always pleasant, so here are a few keys to help make giving correction little more manageable and effective.


1. Relationship 

Your team is like a bank account--you have to put something in before you are able to take something out. Praise = a deposit. Correction = a withdraw. Make sure you are always putting in more than you are taking out. If you don't have a healthy relationship with your team members, giving correction will be difficult. However, if you are consistently encouraging your team and making positive deposits into their lives, you will be better positioned to give correction when needed. 


2. Timing

Choose an appropriate time to give the correction. Timing can make the difference between correction being received or rejected. Don't correct when emotions are high. You may say something you'll regret later. If necessary, take some time to cool off and think about the situation from an objective perspective. However, don't wait too long. If you procrastinate, the correction won't carry the same impact and the problem may even grow bigger. 


3. Location

Photo take by Christopher Esquivel 

Photo take by Christopher Esquivel 

Once the timing is right, find a proper place for the conversation. My mom always told me to "praise in public, correct in private." Consider the person's personality when choosing a location. People with strong personalities need a strong environment (for example, your office) when they are given correction. People who are more laid back need a less confrontational environment (like a coffee shop). An appropriate location will help the person be more receptive to your correction.


4. Delivery


When giving correction, control your emotions and speak in a normal tone of voice. Show some empathy and understanding (everyone desires to have his or her feelings validated), but be sure to hit the problem head on. Be clear and specific. Don't be vague or drag in unnecessary details. Focus the conversation on the issue at hand. If you sense it starting to veer off topic, bring it back immediately. After addressing the problem and expressing your concerns, explain the change you would like to see. Clearly state your expectations and, if necessary, the resulting consequences. Offer practical suggestions to help the person. If appropriate, schedule a follow-up meeting. Conclude by affirming him or her. End the conversation on a positive note. 

Finally, as a leader sometimes you need to choose your battles. Don't go around trying to put out every little fire. You'll exhaust yourself and your team. Some things just may need to be overlooked for a season. Other things need to be addressed immediately. Wisdom knows the difference. Here are some questions to ask yourself before giving correction:

- Will [insert problem here] breed division in the team?

- Will [insert problem here] decrease team moral?

- Will [insert problem here] significantly hinder team progress?

- Will [insert problem here] inhibit the individual from being/becoming successful?

If you can answer a strong “yes” to any of the above questions, chances are you need to give correction. Remember, the purpose of correction is not to point fingers, hurt feelings, or put people down. As a leader, you give correction because you want the best for your team. Correction should always build up and push people forward. Leaders should always desire to empower, not over power. Correction, done correctly, empowers your team to be successful!

MARISSA COLOMA is the Media Director at Harbor Christian Center. She has over 8 years experience in pre-, post-, and live media production, specializing in video editing, graphic design, event coordinating, and leading creative teams. Marissa loves using media as a tool to communicate the Gospel! 

Marissa also serves on the leadership teams for HCC's 18:30 Young Adult and Woman Connect ministries. God is using Marissa as voice to preach and teach His Word. Her heart is to see a generation of leaders equipped and empowered to walk in their purpose and advance the Kingdom of God.

Marissa is a full-time student at California State University, Dominguez Hills where she will earn her BA in Communications: Public Relations & Advertising next year. When she is not studying, Marissa enjoys watching movies, playing the piano, and playing tennis.