How Constructive Criticism Can Help Grow Your Career

November 7, 2018
Career Development

After working hard on a project it can be crushing to hear that all your effort and time isn’t up to par for your employer. Take a deep breath. No matter how disappointed you might be, you can use this experience as a way to help better the way you work and use towards your own personal growth as you continue to grow your career.

Acknowledge Your First Reactions

You might feel defensive, angry, or even sad, but whatever you do, don’t overreact or make a scene. “If your manager or colleague is sharing feedback, whether negative or positive, it's a sign they care about the growth and trajectory of your career,” says Forbes’ Jacquelyn Smith. If you remember to take a breath and process what you’re feeling, this can help you steer this discussion in a constructive way that helps you learn from your mistakes.

Ask Questions

Still not sure what you did wrong? Ask! Hearing direct examples about how you’ve acted and how you’ve underperformed is the first step in making changes, so use your boss’s confrontation as an opportunity to ask for specific examples and advice on how to move forward. However, avoid debate; it can be difficult to view your actions from another perspective, but this can only help you grow and gain perspective on your interactions and work ethic.


This person is taking time out of their day to help you, so give them the same amount of attention they have given you. Listen to their answers and complete thoughts without interruption and input from you--that will come later, but now it’s essential to dissect and accept their feedback with an open mind. It’s also important to not judge or doubt their opinions at this time; it can be as difficult to give feedback as it is to receive it, so give them the respect they’ve given you.

Say Thank You

Whether this feedback is given in a yearly review or a more informal meeting, it’s important to thank your manager or supervisor for their advice and feedback. When thanking them, repeat back a key point or example they gave to you and recognize their perspective. This is an essential turning point for your growth at this company and your career as a whole, so take each perspective to heart and let them know you appreciate the time they have given you.

Create a Plan to Change

After you’ve thanked your manager, now it’s the perfect time to reflect on what they’ve shared. Do you agree with their feedback? Have you truly been slacking off or been disrespected with your coworkers? Write down all the feedback that they’ve given you and create a mind map of the steps you need to take to create this change. The best way to grow your career is to change your work habit by using this feedback to carve out your path for improvement. This will not only be a great way to show your boss you care and respect their authority but will give you the perfect experience to build from in future roles.

Follow Up

Whether you’ve completely resolved the issue at hand or need assistance creating an improvement plan, it’s important to maintain a conversation. If there is a larger issue or a more extensive plan that needs to be created, you might want to ask for a follow-up meeting. This will give you even more time to ask questions, seek advice from others, and to process the information and advice given to you.

Negative feedback is never fun to hear. However, this type of criticism is constructive for a reason--it’s the only way we can learn from our mistakes and grow our careers.

All the best