Tag Archives: criticism

Family Wealth Alliance Webinar – Sept 14

15 Aug

webinar

Criticism–used well, this powerful leadership tool can promote positive change and strengthen relationships in business and life. Is it possible to use criticism at work without breeding resentment?

Dr. Deborah Bright, best-selling author and business coach, joins Family Wealth Alliance CEO Tom Livergood for a free webinar and fireside chat about the highly misunderstood topic of using criticism positively in the workplace.

Dr. Bright offers valuable techniques from her most recent book, rated by getAbstract as one of this year’s top 5 business books! She pulls tips from her book The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change to help us:

  • Understand the essential role of criticism in the workplace
  • Overcome common mistakes made when giving criticism
  • Gain insights on handling difficult work-related situations

Register now for this free 1-hour webinar on September 14th, 2:00PM EDT. Turbocharge your workplace and career by learning to strengthen relationships and enhance performance with criticism!

Note: Dr. Bright’s 30-minute fireside chat will follow Bob Legan, of Whitnell & Company, discussing unique issues and planning opportunities with family owned or closely held businesses.

It’s Time to Take the Politics Out of Criticism in the Workplace

3 Aug

Business people

Today there seems to be a concerted trend toward the inception of a policy of intolerance for not just the use of but the very mention of the word “criticism” in the workplace. Exactly who it is behind this trend or why it is happening remains a mystery. While the roots of the trend might likely be found within the secret motivations of various organizations’ overly sensitive political correctness elite, the top-top management of organizations appear unaware of what’s going on.

Recent findings from a national survey conducted jointly by NMA and Bright Enterprises reported that 58% of managers have no problem with the use of the word.

While the actual word, “criticism,” may impress many as something to be avoided rather than cherished, 80% of NMA managers actually have a very positive view of the importance of using criticism in the workplace. Believe it or not, the majority of respondents overwhelmingly view criticism as a powerful motivator, performance enhancer, builder of trust and respect, and a change agent.

Nevertheless, they do appreciate that, used improperly, criticism can cause major problems in relationships. Why? Because few think about where the definitional dividing line is between the word “criticism” and other seemingly synonymic words like “insult”, “condemnation”, “disparagement”, etc .

Using replacement words like “feedback” or “caring confrontation,” while understandably softer and more “acceptable”, doesn’t carry the suggested threat of consequence that criticism does if no action is taken on the part of the receiver. In fact, besides being unclear about whether any action is necessary, very importantly, receivers may not even be aware of any non-action consequences if no action or the wrong action is taken.

Such factors alone are what distinguishes the uniqueness of the word “criticism” from substitute words or phrases designed to preserve the relationship but in the process camouflage the weight of the message’s meaning.

What is needed is for organizations to identify and reeducate those who think the use of the word” criticism” should be banished from the workplace. Why? Because there is no other word that can adequately substitute the full gravity of its effectiveness. But, maybe even more importantly, such people really do not understand what benefits accrue to the organization when criticism and its proper use are understood by all throughout the organization.

Furthermore, it is the lack of skill in this area that most likely contributes greatly to criticism’s bad reputation. Interestingly, 65% of Managers from the NMA and Bright Enterprises national survey admitted to receiving no training on how to give criticism and another 70% of women and 58% of men admitted to receiving no training on how to be a receptive receiver.  What’s more, of those who reported having received any training, 49% believe it was inadequate.

So is banishing the word really the answer? I think not.

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).

You Don’t Have to Like Those You Manage

16 Oct

It’s yet another reorganization and, as the manager of the customer service department, you now have Marilyn reporting to you. It doesn’t take long before you secretly decide that you don’t like her. She has annoying habits that get under your skin. For instance, like most people, you hate to be interrupted and invariably, when speaking with her, she frequently, and unhesitatingly, boldly cuts you off in the middle of a sentence.. To make matters even worse, in meetings she has the habit of correcting you in front of others over the most trivial of items. She also anticipates what you are going to say before you have a chance to finish your sentence. She’ll say, “I get it,” when you believe she really doesn’t. Keeping this picture in mind, what do you need to do to motivate yourself to work with and develop this employee?

Let’s be honest, you need not think of yourself as the only manager who has had to come to terms with a situation like this. While it may take a lot of energy on your part, here are some tips to consider before you actually go into action and approach this type of employee.

Tip #1: Liking a Marilyn is not a prerequisite to dealing with a Marilyn

To begin with, even though you dislike this employee you must not be discouraged from managing her effectively. As a manager, no one ever postulated that you have to like the people who report to you. Your job and role as a leader is to work with them. If you have ever played competitive sports or acted in a play, you’ll easily recall how important it was to focus on the overall goal and to pull together, even if all the players didn’t like one another. It’s a similar situation here. Once you adopt this mental framework, you’re now ready to create an atmosphere of acceptance for criticism. That’s right! Once you realize that by using the proper application of criticism as a way of diminishing the behaviors that get in the way of the major goal of working effectively together, it is then that you are on your way to a successful working relationship. At this point, you are not pointing out Marilyn’s behaviors that annoy you. Instead you are investing time and energy to build a common understanding of how best to work together, so that future conflicts will be minimized and any criticisms delivered will be perceived as helpful.

Tip #2: Create an Atmosphere of Acceptance for Criticism.

Like most people, you might think that criticism of others is a sure way to invite conflict. But, the truth is that criticism, used properly, can be one of the best and most effective learning tools available to managers. It can actually enhance trust and respect in relationships. Most people fail at the effective use of criticism mainly because they do not first create the atmosphere in which it can thrive to everyone’s advantage. To establish an atmosphere of acceptance means taking some time to develop a clear understanding of how best to approach each other when criticism becomes necessary . What’s important to emphasize during your discussion with Marilyn is the role criticism plays at work and how it is linked to helping her to grow and develop. This is a valuable discussion to have because most employees have received little to no training on this subject. Furthermore, if your organization has painted over the word ‘criticism’ – like so many have – then like others in the workforce, Marilyn will be very confused and will need to understand this essential aspect of communication. To further encourage a two way exchange, find out if Marilyn has encountered bosses in the past who have engaged in candid conversations about her performance and what she can do better. By taking this broad approach you are positioning yourself to enter more easily into a discussion about how best to approach Marilyn with criticism. You should never have to guess about how best to approach her. During you exchange, the focus is to develop a common understanding of expectations. If you are wondering whether or not Marilyn would be able to engage in a conversation where she expresses her preferences for how best to be approached, fear not. It’s been my experience that every employee knows what turns them off and what turns them on. They just need to be asked. Millennials, in particular, are looking for feedback. What they are sensitive to is how it is delivered. It needs to be digestible.

Tip #3: Have a Marilyn’s Best Interests in Mind

It’s also essential for you to let Marilyn know you have her best interest in mind so she readily recognizes that the criticism is meant to be helpful. One way you can convey this is by making sure you always show value when delivering criticism. In order to show value, you need to link the criticism to what’s important to Marilyn or to her career goals. Let’s say in the six weeks that you’ve worked with Marilyn you’ve learned from talking to her that she places importance on being respected. Knowing that makes it possible for you to point out to Marilyn how her interruption of others sends the wrong message. More specifically, point out to Marilyn that interrupting others is not only rude but also conveys the notion that what she has to say is more important than what they have to say. It also communicates that she is not interested in listening to what the other person has to say, and that indirectly says she doesn’t respect them. Perhaps your reminded of the following expression, “I wouldn’t give you the time of day if I didn’t respect you.” So listening without interruption sends an indirect message of respect. Now, Marilyn will readily understand where you are coming from as opposed to concluding incorrectly that what you have to say to her is trivial or that you are picking on her.

By taking care to create an atmosphere for effective and acceptable criticism you are ready now to communicate with the Marilyn’s out there and turn them around from someone who is tough to work with to someone you can get along with and go forward. By putting these important tips to work you will immediately find that being open and transparent will be interpreted as helpful and that’s motivating, not only for Marilyn, but for everyone on your team who has to interact with Marilyn.

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).

Taking Liberties with Definitions

5 May

AKEZ

Is the Workplace Becoming a New Tower of Babel?

With all the excitement about today’s social media, I’ve noticed – and perhaps you have too – that certain individuals seem to take liberties in defining words as they choose rather than complying with more authoritative sources, uh, such as dictionaries. Take the word criticism, for example. One blogger said that she would rather receive “feedback” than “criticism” – but then went on to describe feedback that closely mirrored the official definition of criticism. Others torture the definition of criticism as something related to “personal bashing”, such as an insult, or having a characteristic of being hurtful. In fact one HR person hinted he was considering banning it altogether.

The other day I was coaching an executive who defined empowerment as giving her people an opportunity to make decisions that she “would ultimately approve or disapprove”. Sounds like, in her world, empowerment is simply synonymous with suggestions! Whatever, I’m not sure how working for her would be all that empowering.

Another word that seems to have become abused almost beyond a recognizable definition is “accountable. ” Recently, when surveying HR professionals from organizations in and around Manhattan, only 35% of them claimed that the managers within their respective organizations hold their people “accountable.” When subsequently asking what being held accountable means, I received varying definitions – ranging from employees not doing what was asked of them to managers not following through.

Where am I going with this? It’s hard enough to communicate clearly so that the receiver and sender stay on the same page. But when the definitions of what once was common managerial lingo takes on different and personalized meanings, it makes communicating with one another confusing and even more challenging.

Imagine delivering a presentation to a group of your employees where all have a different interpretation of words like goals, objectives, accountability, and success. Before you walk off the podium with the assumption that they all “got it”, you might want to clarify your meaning of the key operative words you had used. In your clarification follow-up you may be surprised by the Tower of Babel effect your presentation had on at least a few in your audience.

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).

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.

 

 

The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt

10 Oct

Truth Doesn't Have to HurtTake a moment to think about and answer the following questions regarding the people you manage and/or interact with on a daily basis at work:

  • Do you find that managing other people can be very stressful, especially when you are trying to offer suggestions for improvement?
  • Are you desirous of establishing open communications with your staff or peers but are having difficulty making that happen?
  • Are you hesitant to point out anything that staff or peers can do better because you are concerned about causing tension in the relationship?
  • Are you interested in learning how to better influence others?

If you answered “yes” to two or more of these questions then I recommend that you give some thought to the role criticism plays in relationships and bringing about change.

Interestingly, not everyone associates the questions above with the subject of criticism. Yet you will find that criticism is an underlying element in each of these questions. In my newest book, The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt, How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change, you will learn that helpful criticism is directly linked to strengthening relationships – the kind of relationships rooted in trust and respect, improving performance, and promoting positive change.

What’s so exciting is that after investing over a year to write, I’m pleased to announce that The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt is now available in bookstores and online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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. To learn more about Deb Bright, visit her website at www.drbright.com.
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