Friday, November 27, 2009

Feedback and Criticism - the how and when to take it

Being told that you aren't as good as you think you are can be pretty hard to swallow - especially when it comes from someone you think highly of.

So what do you do in this situation?

You can either get upset, get angry and blame the other person for being wrong OR you can analyse what they said and change the way you do things.

It is important that when receiving feedback that you differentiate between the feelings and the facts of the situation and comments. Try not to confuse the two.

Here are some quick fire steps for receiving criticism -

  1. Who. Who said it, do do you respect their opinion, does their opinion count in the current situation?

  2. What. What was said? Was the criticism relevant to the situation?

  3. How. How was it said? Was the person fired up and angry? Even if they were - was what they actually said worthwhile and valuable (after you take all the heat out)

  4. Why. What situation arose whereby the criticism became necessary? Was there a genuine situation to apply the comments to?

After you have evaluated these things then you can choose how to respond or change your future approach or management style.

This is exactly one situation I was in during this week. I knew a particular work setup was working okay but was far from the best. I asked a person what their view was - and guess what - they confirmed my suspicions! I became upset and angry because I knew they were right and I was so wrong.

After a day or two of re-evaluation I have decided to write up a new plan for 2010 that hopefully will begin to correct some of the problem areas. Were the problems huge or personal? No way, they were actually quite minor. However it was what I heard (the way I listened) that was the real problem.

So now I move on and start again next week, with fresh feedback, fresh thinking and a fresh plan for 2010.

"We need very strong ears to hear ourselves judged frankly, and because there are few who can endure frank criticism without being stung by it, those who venture to criticise us perform a remarkable act of friendship for to undertake to wound or offe". Michel de Montaigne.

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