John Maxwell shares an excellent article on the need for leaders to balance “Caring” with “Candor” during employee critique.

Before your leaders begin confronting employees, they need to know if the problem is one of ability or attitude. As leadership consultant Dr. Samuel R. Chand says, “We hire people for what they know and fire them for who they are.”  If the issue is ability, then training may be in order. If the problem is a poor attitude, confronting employees with care gives them the opportunity to change. People can improve their abilities and change their attitudes. Candor without care creates distant relationships. But care balanced with candor creates developing relationships.

Here are four truths to share with your team leaders to help them confront with that critical balance of care and candor:

1. Caring Values the Person while Candor Values the Person’s Potential: To be successful, leaders must let people know they are valued. Caring for others shows them the value you see in them, but helping them get better means being honest about where they need to improve. Candor shows that a leader values a person’s potential. One of the secrets of being candid is for leaders to think, speak, and act in terms of who the person has the potential to become and how to help them achieve it.

2. Caring Establishes the Relationship While Candor Expands the Relationship: Care and common ground help establish a relationship, but expanding a relationship requires candor and open communication. Leaders shouldn’t be reluctant to have difficult conversations because it may make them uncomfortable or they don’t want to hurt the employee. The right balance of care and candor creates an opportunity to deepen and strengthen the relationship. When your leaders have candid conversations and that person hangs in there and grows, your good employee takes the next step toward becoming a great employee.

3. Caring Defines the Relationship While Candor Directs the Relationship: It’s good for your managers to build solid relationships by caring for people, but a solid relationship doesn’t mean they’re going anywhere together. Sometimes candor is required for leaders to move the team forward. Retired Army general and former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, noted, “Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which means that some people will get angry at your actions and decisions. It’s inevitable—if you’re honorable.” To lead a team of people well, leaders must be willing to direct individuals candidly.

4. Caring Should Never Suppress Candor, While Candor Should Never Displace Caring: The bottom line is that good leaders must embrace both care and candor. Candid conversations are a leader’s responsibility and must be done—but in the right way with the right attitude. In the long term, it’s best not only for the team and the organization, but also for the good employee who needs to hear what needs to be said so he or she can improve.