Oct 23, 2010

Criticize your people – here is HOW, part 1: NO PANIC system I recommend to leaders and managers

In the previous blog post ‘’Criticize your employees – here is WHY’’ I explained why you should criticize your people. Your alternative is to keep hoping that mistakes will not be repeated, negative behaviors will fade away, and performance will improve.

It might happen, but it is very unlikely.

You should do your job of giving feedback and managing performance even when doing so is not pleasant i.e. when you must get out of your comfort zone, which every leader sooner or later - does.

How can you be a manager if you don’t give feedback and how do you imagine being a leader if you are not ready to get out of your comfort zone?

I am not going to pretend it’s a walk in the park for me, because I am a management consultant who keeps all management tools sharp, and used them thousand times.

It is still tough and I would rather NOT do it if it was better for business. But it is not.

The point is:

Yes, you have to do it, and yes, you CAN do it right.

No, it is not a magic talent. It is a skill that can be learned or improved.

In Criticize your employees - here is WHY, I said if you don’t criticize:

1. The others think you accept work that is not good enough.

2. You get and accept mediocre results.

3. They will think whatever they did (or did not do and they should have) is not a big deal, even when it is.

4. You don’t do your job as a manager, because you must give feedback - and not only when all is going great.

5. They might see you as week, coward, suspect or (God forbid) find out you criticize them behind their back, which can happen. (When they find out about this and they will ,believe me, they will not trust you and there goes your leadership.)

6. They will not be more engaged when you say nothing, because they might feel you are not following or caring enough about their work.

7. You send the message that their jobs/work/actions do not matter much anyway.

I will give you a SYSTEM OF THREE STAGES with steps, rules, and tips for each stage.

It will make this task less of a nightmare, save you time and increase your chance of standing out as exceptional manager or leader.

THREE STAGES OF CRITICIZING I recommend are:

1. PREPARE

2. CRITICIZE CONSTRUCTIVELY

3. FOLLOW UP


STAGE 1: PREPARE

You need answers and you might need them now. Can’t afford to lose all day thinking what to say, and do not need a scene with your employee either. Little time spent on preparation will save you time and aggravation.

Follow these five steps to prepare quickly and efficiently for what needs to be done.


Step 1 Try to calm down

You might feel worried, uncomfortable, embarrassed, angry, or furious. You might feel surprised, even betrayed by something your employee did, or did not do.

Emotional minefield comes to mind. There is nothing wrong with emotions just be aware of them and try to channel them towards desired outcome.

If you're mad, though, take a few deep breaths to calm yourself down first.

· Try not to think ‘’I’m going to show him/her,’’ or ‘’I am going to get her.’’

· Don’t keep worrying they will get upset or cry.

· Try to approach from a position of authority, ‘’We need better than this and I will help this person improve.’’


Step 2 Determine your goal

What is your goal? Is it improvement? Is it to prevent repetition of mistakes?

(To prevent mistake from happening again you will find out why/how it happened. That is why it is important to speak out.)

Answer that and concentrate on the goal you need to achieve. It will be easier to concentrate as much as possible on the goal and not on your feelings.


Step 3 Try to formulate what you are going to say

You might need to take some time to formulate your criticism, but don't use that as an excuse to procrastinate. Procrastination only increases the chance that the problem will be repeated.

When you have a plan of what you are going to say, it is less likely you will surprise yourself and employee blurting out something that is better left unsaid.


Step 4 Prepare evidence if appropriate

Sometimes employee will deny mistake or pretend not to remember what happened exactly. That is why you need to have the facts ready.

Prepare particular report, e.g. sales data, customer complaint, manufacturing data, log sheet, attendance report, relevant e-mail, or whatever you need to back up your claim or request clarification of the problem.


Step 5 Prepare for employee defending himself.

More often than not you will face employee blaming someone else, something else, whatever he can think of.

Confirm it was clear to him/her what his responsibilities/goals are. Confirm they had resources to meet that goal.

Be ready to repeat the goal and expected standard of performance.

If not, you choose to gamble and leave it to their interpretation or possibility for future excuses.

Next blog post will give you Stage 2: Criticize constructively - 10 rules of giving constructive criticizm.


Do you ever prepare for delivering criticism and what is your secret if any?




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