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The '2-1-2-1' Rule of Criticizing Your Employees

January 10, 2021

Yes, you can motivate people through criticism. Maybe up to date you have done criticism on your people when you became angry on their performance, or even just casually done it. But you can make criticism a very useful tool that does not demotivate people. Instead, the criticism, if well planned and executed, can make difference in their performance in a positive way. For this, you need to follow the '2-1-2-1' rule while you do it.


Most people don’t understand the fine line. Yes, there is an invisible line while criticizing your subordinates. Often the new Managers and even some seniors do not understand the line and cross it at the same time. This results in worsening the game.


Remember, as a Manager, your goal is not to make a projection of the faults in your employees. You have a target set by the higher management, or the board of Directors, or you yourself. Your job is to honestly reach that goal through the efforts of a team that is reporting to you. Criticizing an employee should revolve around this purpose.


Don’t criticize people only to keep them scared about you. It is a miserable and ridiculous tactic applied by even some of the senior management peoples. Criticism is one of the factors which plays a vital role in motivating people. The first rule is, don't criticize someone, instead, criticize their work only. You can avoid things taken by your people personally by this. There is a fine line which you should always keep in mind while talking to your people.


Unfair and negative criticism of one’s work or someone as an individual demotivates them. When you criticize do it in such a way that the person gets benefitted from this. You can simply follow the ‘2-1-2-1 rule’.


You cannot avoid criticizing people while operating as a Manager or Business owner. Unless you provide feedback to people working under you they will not understand what good or bad they have done. But, it is often seen that the criticizing Managers become unpopular among employees and people don’t really accept them as a leader. You can change this if you follow this simple rule.



The 2-1-2-1 rule of criticism