Even if you aren’t a football fan, I’m sure you’ve heard of the “Ferguson Hairdryer” (see above) a unique way of passing information from Alex to anyone within listening range. It was Alex’s way of criticising his team, and its gained a reputation for being effective in a negative sort of way- its the sort of criticism you seek to avoid.
Whether you’re on the hot air end of a ‘Hairdryer’, or just had your presentation taken apart by a colleague, criticism is a part of the modern business world, and many (myself included) have supposed as it’s business then the criticism can be unvarnished.
As aspiring senior managers, either coming into local or international businesses we need to find ways to cope with criticism and to boost resilience. I believe it’s important to take criticism in your stride as well as being able to assist your team by being constructively critical of their performance. Being able to hear understand and appreciate people’s opinions can improve our relationships, business performance, and job satisfaction. Sharing our views in a positive and constructive way also enhances relationships and performance and its a key element I’d eQ that I will talk about in the future.
Remember, business criticism is feedback that’s supposed to assist businesses improve. Some organizations leaders may also use criticism to help employees improve their work while others use it to make people tremble before approaching the boss’s office (Alex Ferguson admirers).
But not all criticism is bad news. Constructive criticism — offering thoughtful feedback — can help us gain valuable insight into our actions and increase trust between people. Constructive criticism – such as ‘here’s how this paragraph could be better to explain the underlying return on equity’- boosts performance more than destructive criticism (‘this paper is awful’). Destructive criticism — the “this is terribe” kind — involves accusing people and pointing out their faults without suggestions for improvement. This clearly doesn’t enhance business. But whether criticism is useful or just plain humiliating, there are ways to deal with it and move on.
Do This, Not That — Here’s Your Action Plan
Being sensitive to criticism can be a sticky situation. Sometimes people may even stop working toward a goal out of fear of being critiqued. Using DISC assessment as we do a acumen.sg, we know that those who display a high C have a general fear of any form of criticism as they hold themselves (and others) to high standards. Here are some helpful tips to handle any kind of criticism that heads our way:
1. Listen. Assess whether the criticism is constructive or simply rude. If you know the person, assess what style of DISC preferences they have and use this to assess the meaning of giving criticism. You may feel hurt when your colleague says you’re controlling, but having him point out this flaw may help you change and the team perform better. If the criticism could in any way be helpful, listen-up and try to learn from it instead of getting defensive.
2. Respond calmly. Be respectful no matter what, and thank someone if the feedback is useful. If the critique is uncalled for (‘…. that business plan you wrote was crap’), why not try some kindness in return. A simple smile makes you the bigger person as does a “thanks for sharing your views”. Maybe ask them how they made this decision, and how you could improve next time.
3. Don’t take it personally. Try to separate your personality from both the situation and object of the criticism and have a clear focus on what’s being critiqued. That your boss deconstructed your ROI doesn’t mean you are worthless and useless. Remember, his preference is to be a high D and needs to show he’s in command quickly and he prefers not to dawdle on communication, and you need to learn from him how to put these papers together. Focus on the work not on yourself personally. Even if the criticism is directed personally, see if you can establish a dialogue where you can learn something about your behaviour and its impact on others.
4. Manage stress. When we’re constantly on edge, we can feel out of control and unable to respond to criticism with a clear head. Don’t let this incident of criticism be a lightning rod for all your frustrations, and don’t unleash them on this poor individual who didn’t like your report. So take a deep breath to keep those stress levels in check, count to 6, and take a metaphorical step back and think before you unleash.
5. Keep going. Remember that the criticism represents just one person’s point of view. Know what your strengths are. Continue to hold an objective view of your own performance. Don’t let other people’s opinions keep you from working hard towards a goal. If the criticism is unjustified, keep on working. If the criticism is justified, learn from it and improve.
So 5 tips I’ve learnt through receiving thirty years of criticism to help you deal with life’s ‘hair dryers’ I would love to hear from you on other tips that have served you well.