Monday, December 16, 2013

Constructive? Criticism

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You just learned that Susie the salesperson miscalculated a job estimate and now you’re thinking about the “constructive” criticism you will deliver when she gets back to the office. But first, let’s get a little more precise and call it by its real name: criticism. We add the “constructive” part to make ourselves feel better.

Of course we have to critically assess our people all the time, but it’s possible to criticize in a way that creates a good outcome. You do it by not criticizing at all.

Isn’t it true that your best employees are harder on themselves than you will ever be? If your answer is yes, that’s good news. It means that the hardest part of offering criticism has already been done - by them. Now you get to do the interesting part: uncovering what went wrong.

The ultimate outcome that you're after is one where Susie will never make (that) mistake again, right? The best way to make that happen is to include Susie in figuring out the solution. But - she can’t do that very well if she feels ashamed & embarrassed.

Instead, you can get the outcome you want by asking questions. Yes, you’re busy, & asking questions will take more time and it’s faster to just tell her what she did wrong wrong wrong blah blah blah.

You always have a choice. You can lead Susie to the outcome you want by asking questions or by criticizing. And I promise you that the first one works better.

So, sit her down and talk it out for ten minutes. Put a clock on it because that's all it will take.
Ask questions & she might understand her error faster.
Ask questions and she will know that you are contributing to her development.
Ask questions and she really might not make (that) mistake again.

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