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How to Balance Praise and Criticism when Dealing with Your Employees

21 Feb

Image result for balance

Praise and criticism are two powerful tools managers and leaders can use to motivate their employees and enhance their performance. But how much criticism is too much? And when does praise start to become more suspect than inspiring? What is the ideal ratio?

The truth is that there is no universal standard for the appropriate amounts of praise and criticism to offer your employees; you should be wary of any experts who make this claim. Employees don’t operate in such a way that one-size-fits-all approaches will meet all their needs. So what you need to do is formulate an individualized Praise-to-Criticism Ratio for each employee. To accomplish this, think of a specific employee for whom you want to develop his/her Praise-to-Criticism Ratio. Put yourself in the employee’s shoes and consider the following:

  • Recall the interactions you have had with that employee over the past 30 days.
  • As you think about the various tasks assigned and the subsequent interactions that took place, recall whether the employee received any praise or criticism after turning in each assigned task.

If, after completing these mental exercises from the employee’s perspective, you conclude that you have provided no feedback after assigning tasks, then you’ve gained a terrific insight. Employees need to know whether the work they did has contributed to or detracted from the success of a project or task. So it’s important that you provide feedback moving forward. Likewise, if you found that you are relentlessly heaping praise on your employee, then your credibility with this employee is at risk. After all, the employee’s work can always be improved and your taking an interest in how they can do things better is meaningful to many employees. Finally, if you find you are always criticizing, don’t be surprised if the employee reacts to your excessive criticisms by increasingly tuning you out, or even cowering when being approached.

Ultimately, you will have to use your best judgment to decide the exact amounts of praise and criticism that are appropriate for each employee. After all, what we are talking about is an art form, not a science. As a thought, because you work closely with your employees why not ask them periodically about the quality and quantity of your feedback! After all, your employees are your best source of information! Doing this periodically will not only result in creating the proper feedback ratio of praise to criticism as performance levels soar, but will also make employees feel valued at the same time.

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 is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books), and was rated as one of the Top 10 Business Books of 2016 by getAbstract.

Check Out Our New Website!!!

18 Feb

I’m sure many of you have noticed a decline in the number of posts I have been making, in fact they have come to a complete stand still. The reason for this is that we have been going through a transitionary period here at Bright Enterprises. One of the end results of this transition is that our new website has been completely reworked from the bottom up. So, rest assured that in the coming weeks I will once again begin to share my expertise.

Until then, please take a moment and peruse the new website! We are very excited and hope that you will find it to be easier to navigate and more user friendly.

Just to get you all excited, here is a preview of my next post!

Personal Responsibleness, what is it and how does it differ from responsibility? Stay tuned to find out!

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 is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

Re-thinking ‘Negative’ People

27 Mar

criticizingIn this age where so often people engage their mouth before their brain, it’s important not to be so quick to label those who criticize something as being “negative”. This notion came to me while walking on the streets of NYC where I came upon a marquee in front of a church that read something like this: “Avoid being around negative people. They find problems in solutions.”

At first glance, the message is catchy and gets you saying to yourself, “Yeah, negative people are real downers and energy drainers. However, when thinking further about the message, I came up with a different conclusion. Let me explain. Imagine you are working on a project and present what you consider to be a solution to a challenging problem that’s been giving everyone on the team a fit. Would you like others on your team to simply support your suggested solution without giving it much thought in an effort to stay positive and be viewed as the team who “goes along to get along”? Or would you want team members to examine your proposed solution for the purpose of possibly finding any gaps or weaknesses? And if identified, would you want them to make their concerns or criticisms known?

My bet is that you would prefer the latter. What’s important to realize is that criticism by its very nature is rooted in some degree of negativity no matter how we try to soften our message. However, well-intended criticism, even though rooted in negativity, is meant to be helpful and move the process along, so that a successful outcome is realized. Sure, there are those who criticize and are negative for the sake of being critical or negative. They are the individuals on the team who either are unskilled in giving criticism or they have another agenda in mind and most often not a helpful one! It’s those who have the other agenda in mind that we need to view suspiciously and watch out for!

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 is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

A New Position? Some Tips for Getting a Head Start Toward Success

16 Feb

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image21661599You’ve just accepted a new position in a different division within the organization you have been working in for the past few years. Even though the company goes by the same name, from your point of view it might as well be a different company because all the players are pretty much unfamiliar to you. In fact, the only familiar link you have to this new environment is your new boss – and you barely know her. She’s the one who personally approached you about the job. She impressed you as someone you could easily get along with and the job responsibilities fit well with your competencies. One critical factor in accepting had to do with a lesson you learned from a mentor awhile back – he urged that the best way to “reset yourself” is to leave your current job. Your desire to hit the “reset button” reached a critical point when your husband put his foot down and said you can’t keep going at the pace you’ve been running. Up until this point, traveling was a constant, as was putting in 65-70 hours a week. On weekends, you were moody and glued to your laptop. Rather than argue with your husband’s forceful so-called “request”, you agreed. So now you’ve made the grand leap to change jobs and bring some balance into your life. To make sure you get off to a successful start while resetting yourself to a more reasonable work schedule, here are 4 tips to keep in mind:

 1. Secure Some Quick Wins

Remember, at the start of most any job there’s an implied honeymoon period where you have a little extra time and leeway to make things happen; so, take advantage and use your time wisely. One way to successfully position yourself to identify some quick wins is by interviewing all the key people you support. Ask them, as one successful manger did, the following question – “What is one thing that’s within the framework of my role that I am in control of doing that would be of greatest help to you over the next 30 days?” Write down what they have to say and remember to reconnect with them when you have fulfilled their request.

 2. Don’t Be Too Quick to Draw Conclusions

In your effort to get up to speed in a new job, it’s not uncommon for us to jump to conclusions about what the issues may be only to find out later that we misread what was happening around us. Don’t fall into this trap. One manager, who recently started a new job, avoided that tendency by deciding to keep a daily log that chronicled his observations about people and issues. Each day he would write down his thoughts about the people he needed to support and work with. He also had a separate section that identified pressing problems and potential longer-term issues. As a word of caution here: since this diary reflected his candid thoughts, he felt it was best to journal his ideas at home – just to keep on the safe side! Each week he would summarize his thoughts. To his amazement, he found that many of his initial conclusions about people and issues were totally inaccurate or had to be modified. Explore whether using an approach such as this may prove to be helpful for you. To be successful, you need to accurately read the work environment.

 3. Be Aware of the Expectation You Set in the Eyes of Others

If you demand perfection in everything you do from the onset, others will come to expect that level of performance from you all the time. Is that the reputation you want to create? By no means am I suggesting that you slack off or do mediocre work. Rather, you want to discriminate between when you need, want to, and have the time to go beyond what is required and when you can get by with simply meeting expectations. Use your time wisely and assess carefully the priority you assign to each task. The ultimate control lies with you – so take care to focus your energies on what counts regarding the success of the organization’s objectives as well as your own objectives

 4. Manage the Number of Hours You Work Each Week

In most cases, success is based on results, not long hours. Gaining some insights into what success looks like in your new role may be something you can and should clarify with your boss. You might even consider having a similar discussion with those individuals you support. It’s about reading the culture of your organization that can be important. For instance, is there a culture of expectations that includes responding to emails after work hours or over the weekend? This is something to address early on with your boss, peers, and staff in an effort to keep from being surprised on Monday morning when your boss or team says, “We didn’t hear from you regarding the home office request for budget cut ideas.”

When taking a new position, the idea should always be to move from something to something. Using these tips will help ensure that your new career moves in an upward direction to something even better!

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 is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

Diet Tips and Self-Criticism

23 Jan

Weight-Scale

Let’s face it. It’s almost unavoidable to overindulge during holiday seasons. When partying with friends and family members, it’s hard and almost borderline rude to resist all the tempting treats and scrumptious meals passing before our very eyes and olfactory sensitivities. It’s amazing how we tend to get caught up in the moment and somehow rationalize to ourselves that it’s okay to dip into yet another bite or helping. The only trouble is that after all the fun and laughs are over, we wind up berating ourselves for once again eating too much! The self-admonishments and beratings reach a real pinnacle when we notice how the notch on our favorite belt is suddenly too tight or when the waistband of a skirt or pair of pants becomes unusually snug. Forget even braving the scale – it might be too much of a blow to our vanity and self-respect.

Well, to learn from our lessons this past holiday season and to get the new year off to a great start, be aware that when you are beating yourself up, you are engaging in self-criticism, and the exchange you are having can either be empowering or cripplingly self-destructive.

Step back for a minute and ask yourself, “How do I know if I am using self-criticism as an asset?” For starters, reflect on some of the occasions where you overindulged and then followed that with a round of self-criticism. Think about whether after the exchange with yourself – where you were both the giver and receiver of criticism – did you walk away feeling hopeful and with a plan in place, or did you feel beaten down and disgusted? Did you do anything differently when attending the next festive event? Fast forward to now; are you continuing to stick to your plan?

After considering these questions, if you are feeling discouraged and disappointed with yourself and wanting to give up – don’t! You can learn to be your own best friend and use self-criticism to propel you into action by recognizing that it’s a skill. To begin learning the skill, be aware that it’s okay to beat yourself up, but always make sure that you walk away with a plan of action that is specific and one you are committed to following. No kidding – always have a plan in place. Never walk away dismissing the whole thing in the hopes that it will somehow turn out positively. What’s important is that you have your plan in place BEFORE you go to the next dinner event and get tempted by all the fun and excitement that’s surrounding you.

While this next tip may sound familiar, it’s still a worthwhile tip to implement. After all, it’s not enough to know what to do – it’s doing it on a consistent basis that counts! So, before sitting down to eat, plan on only eating half of what is on your plate – and that includes dessert! To fill in the extra time, sip water – as much as you want. As a back-up plan, in between sips of water, check out your stomach. Once you start to feel full – that’s it! You are done! After all, we sometimes forget all the hors d’oeuvres we’ve eaten beforehand! The secret to successfully implementing this plan requires keeping your brain engaged before engaging your stomach and taste buds. However, if you are the type whose brain cells stop firing at the smell or sight of food, then you’ll need to come up with a plan that will work when your resolve first begins to weaken . For instance, if you happen to be at a restaurant, you may find it helpful to ask your waiter when he or she first arrives that you want to have your plate removed as soon as you are half done – even if you throw a fit! If you are at a friend’s house, this becomes a little tricky! You may have to rely on yourself!

Here’s a perspective that is often overlooked. Those who are at their desired weight work at it – very few people have the type of metabolism that allows them to eat everything in sight and still keep their figure! The notion that you have to consistently work at it, whether you are overweight or at your ideal weight, came as a big surprise for one of my friends who was, at the time, struggling to lose 50lbs. She thought those who were considered thin were that way naturally. Not so! Having a plan in place in advance of eating, and sticking to that plan is what’s common. It’s not a secret. It’s just that it’s rarely disclosed. In other words, when we use the expression, “maintaining your proper weight” it’s exactly what these people are doing. The verb ‘maintain’ means “by work and exertion!” Everyone works at it…all year round! Okay, maybe you can let up a little while on vacation! But, giving yourself permission to go a bit overboard should always have time limits and amount limits that don’t go beyond your own sense of overindulgence. By following these self-imposed rules you will always operate with self-respect and YEAH! be trim to boot!!!

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 is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

 

Manners Still Matter in the Workplace

9 Jan

Manners During the holiday cocktail party where I was mingling with other colleagues, the subject of what is going on regarding manners in the workplace, or more accurately…the lack thereof, came up. There seemed to be a majority of consensus among these colleagues of a noticeable decline of standards related to simple social etiquette that not too long ago was expected of people. Among the examples bantered around were how their peers didn’t return phone calls and emails and how just these two things alone contributed to disruptions in the ability to get work completed on time. Rather than spending valuable time chasing these recalcitrant types down, many of my colleagues opted to do the work themselves or go it alone when it came to making decisions. Not willing to settle for calling such behavior as just “bad manners” most agreed it was better characterized as shear rudeness that exemplified a sort of selfish disrespect or, at the least, uncaring attitude on the part of such non-responsive culprits. It was also agreed that just as similarly guilty are an increasing number of coworkers who all too often arrive late to meetings and cause others to accommodate them by reviewing what was said in their absence. Those were mentioned as the bigger disruptive and rude offenses that seemed to be increasing in frequency.

A few of my colleagues who are consultants piped in with other experiences they felt were kind of new in regards to what they observed in the past. In visiting other companies or other departments in their own organization, they have begun to notice an absence of what-use-to-be a sense of welcome. Oftentimes, upon meeting others they have to ask the names of the people they don’t know rather than have a familiar intermediary introduce them. In an unfamiliar setting, they have to awkwardly ask where to hang their coat, get a drink of water, or sometimes where they should sit in a meeting. Politeness is something many of these colleagues never considered to be an elective option. It had always been an expectation! Everyone chimed in with agreement of how there seemed to be an increasing shortage of “thank you’s,” “pardon me’s”, and “may I’s (as in “May I get you a coffee? Tea? Hang your coat? Offer you a Kleenex?” etc., etc.) This quickly led to the topic of giving employees holiday or birthday gifts. Many of them confessed having never received any “thank you” notes from their respective employees or any feedback as to whether or not they enjoyed, liked, or successfully used the gift. I could go on – from failing to open doors, to the rudeness associated with indulging with one’s smart phone during meetings, to not picking up after oneself at the conclusion of meetings– but I’ll stop here.

What’s important to note as this new near gets underway is how nice it would be if everyone we come in contact with at work made a resolution to simply return phone calls and emails by the end of the day – or at least within 24 hours. Making that one small change doesn’t require the adoption of a new corporate policy, nor will it cost the company any money. It’s just making a commitment to our fellow workers to be helpful and respectful and show a tad sense of “manner awareness”. More than any gift can do, it’s showing kindness and caring that keeps on giving throughout the year!

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 is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

Something You Should Know

27 Oct

Recently, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Mike Carruthers for his nationally syndicated radio show, Something You Should Know.

During our lively interview, Mike asked such challenging and thought-provoking questions. We discussed my background and interest in the topic of criticism, its reputation today, and the role “helpful” criticism can play in strengthening workplace relationships – all topics that I address in my new book, The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism To Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change.

You can listen to the entire interview here:   http://successmint.com/how-to-give-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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