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How to Handle Employees Who Avoid Criticism The Ethics Coach handles tackles two big questions: how to deal with employees who resist feedback and how to create a 'mutually beneficial' internship program.

By Gael O'Brien

This story appears in the April 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Q: I have an employee who's bright and confident but has a chip on his shoulder that makes him resistant to feedback. What's the best way to talk to him about his work?

A: Arrogance often masks fear. If you haven't established a basis for trust in your relationship, it will be difficult for your employee to see that perceived criticisms are intended to support his success in the company. Though he needs to shift his attitude and learn how to accept feedback, he's not the only one who may need to make a change.

It's essential that you take a look at how you demonstrate empathy and clarify what is expected of him. That may reduce the fear sufficiently so he can hear what you are saying. Also, make sure your feedback isn't of the drive-by variety (especially when other employees are within earshot) and that, in addition to pointing out areas for growth, you acknowledge the value of what he brings to the table.

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