How Haters can Help
As a corporate coach, I like to focus on strengths and what positive characteristics and skills a person brings to their corporate role. In fact, I am very intentional about focusing on identifying strengths and a person’s positive fit with their role. For me, I try to focus 80% on strengths and 20% on improving performance.
Having said that, it’s important for leaders to be able to handle criticism well. All of us have areas we can improve and if we can’t listen to feedback, we risk creating an environment that minimizes new creative ideas because people will be afraid to say something that their direct upline doesn’t agree with. What is created is a controlled environment. Control leads to making things smaller because we can’t tolerate ideas different than what we have already accepted or approved. It also leads to people dutifully following out of fear, rather than respect.
Recently I had a Manager I was coaching send out a brief questionnaire asking his direct reports to anonymously rate him on how ‘approachable’ they thought he was, how well he listened, especially to divergent ideas and new ways of approaching problems in their division. His Manager had the impression that his team would think he is a poor listener and he thought that he was a pretty good listener. In this case, the actual data confirmed that he was a pretty good listener. What we discovered is that he listens well to those that report to him but struggles to listen to his peers, which is where his Manager had drawn her conclusions from. This researched based data allowed him to shift his approach to a more open, listening approach with his peers. He also spoke to a couple of his peers and asked them to help him in an area he wasn’t as strong in and in which they excelled. When a Manager is open to feedback, it helps to build trust in his leadership. Asking for feedback from peers builds a more cohesive team that utilizes each other’s strengths rather than breeding competitiveness where someone always has to lose.
So, the next time someone throws some criticism your way, take some time to be curious about their opinions. Even if it isn’t 100% accurate, there is usually some helpful piece of information in it. You can also get other opinions, and if possible, do your own research to gather accurate feedback. You can’t improve if you create an environment of fear and your business can’t expand and grow if you create a controlled environment where people are afraid to voice their opinions. So, blow off the status quo and start creating an environment where feedback is welcome and all ideas will be heard.