Criticism and Teams

9 Sep

In a team atmosphere, managers and team leads must be ever mindful of the quality of communication that exists within the team. What is especially important to make note of is the use of criticism. While the proper use of criticism can keep teams functioning at a high level, the improper use of criticism can chip away at the building blocks of good teamwork.

Regardless of your role on a team, whether as a manager, team lead, or team member, think about what role criticism plays when in meetings or during one-on-one communications and answer these questions to yourself:

  • Are team members willing to address another team member if work is not completed on time?
  • If a team member presents an idea in a meeting, is it acceptable for others to deliver an opposing point of view?
  • Do team members avoid using email when needing to criticize another team member?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then it’s likely that boundaries and guidelines within your team have clearly been delineated around the proper use of criticism. If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then it’s likely that the role criticism plays in teams is not well understood. When criticism is understood, and team members are skilled in both giving and receiving criticism, this helps to create a team atmosphere where trust, honesty, and respect can thrive.

Bottom line, our research has shown that you cannot have an exceptional performing team without the effective use of criticism.

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book, entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books) is due out this October.
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