At some point in the life of any startup, there comes the time to critique an employee. For a fledgling small business owner, this can be a terrifying experience. There is a fine line between managing well and being overly critical – and stepping over the divide could equal problems for a company.

So, how can a leader keep the financial plan on track while still managing properly? For starters, it all comes down to communication. A boss who understands each employee well will know how to push their buttons, and when it is time to pull back and take a different approach. 

Therefore, small business owners should be mindful about how they proceed with constructive criticism. 

Identify personality types
Every company needs creative staff – but they can often come with their own challenges. In many cases, the smartest employees can be the most difficult to manage, according to Jeff Stibel, chairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., in an article for the Harvard Business Review.

In order to run a business successfully, owners should figure out who their internal entrepreneurs are, Stibel explained. These people are likely to fly in the face of conventional wisdom. So, they are probably the people who are constantly questioning why something is done a certain way. 

Stibel noted that an internal entrepreneur's quirks are often their strengths. Therefore, managers should be careful not to limit these qualities when managing. If the person needs to take control of a project in order to do it well, let them. As long as they perform the tasks correctly, a financial plan won't suffer because of unique personality traits.

However, these type of employees can still cause problems, according to Stibel. An internal distraction or disruption to the team is always a problem, if it is from the most productive and creative staff member in the firm. That is why the final say should always come down to the small business owner's better judgment. If morale has been impacted by a certain person, it may be time for a bigger change within the company.

Focus on better communication
Management at a small business hinges upon good communication. The need for constructive criticism becomes more important with fewer staff members, and each tiny mistake can become magnified.

According to Entrepreneur magazine, language is one vital step toward good management. When talking to a specific person, it is crucial to leave any personal problems at the door. The meeting should only be about one issue relevant to the business, in order to remain most productive. Friction could be created if a conversation comes across like a personal attack. A better way to approach the situation is to ask what task they feel could be improved upon. This way, flaws aren't immediately highlighted, but a more constructive strategy is taken.

In addition, a small business owner should always be willing to admit when they don't understand something, the news source noted. Many employees know that their bosses may not get exactly how they perform their jobs, but saying this isn't as bad as it sounds. Instead, it can turn a conversation about how to improve into something more personal, with the leaders and the staff working on the same level for a change. Walking through the process will provide added insights for a small business owner, and even let them learn a little something about the nuances of the company.

Overall, a small business owner should communicate well with his or her employees. In order to boost a financial plan and keep a company on track, all criticism should be delivered in an appropriate manner, so employees understand that their work is what drives the company forward.