Constructive Criticism

Q: As a team captain, how can I give my teammates constructive criticism without them taking it personally?

When you stepped into your leadership role, someone might have referenced Spider-Man and told you that “with great power comes great responsibility.” While I only saw the movie once because Andrew Garfield was in it, the quote stuck with me. As a captain, it’s your responsibility to uphold your team to a high standard. However, there will always be someone who takes your tips the wrong way. When you’re giving someone advice on how to perform better, you need to be the nicest version of yourself. You know that what you’re telling them is the first step toward improvement, but their initial thoughts and feelings are probably along the lines of, “I’m doing something wrong” or “I’m not good enough.”

At UCA Camp this summer, my fellow captains and I were taught the “sandwich method.” Always start with a compliment so they don’t get down on themselves. In other words, tell them what they’re doing right. Follow that with your piece of advice and explain the great results they’ll see from applying your feedback. After sharing your input, make sure you end on a optimistic, upbeat note. That way, the last thing they’ll remember about your conversation is something positive. Giving constructive criticism in a helpful, encouraging fashion will set a great example for your squad and will make everyone more open to other’s advice. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to becoming the team you want to be!

– Abby Murphy