Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher. In the uncertain times we live in, leaders are making decisions where there is no obvious, easy choice. As a result, you are likely facing an even greater amount of criticism than usual. In today’s episode, we will talk about how to receive criticism and how it can actually benefit you.
“The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” - Vincent Peale
How you will benefit from constructive criticism
Accepting feedback is an important step when it comes to motivating and engaging a team.
Feedback helps you understand what your team members need to perform well. When you know what makes people feel motivated, you will create a stronger, more productive team.
Criticism can be a good source of ideas.
In order to make informed decisions, leaders need to see situations from other people’s point of view. Choose to welcome different perspectives and create a culture where people feel comfortable offering suggestions to their peers and superiors.
Criticism brings learning opportunities.
Understanding your mistakes helps you improve as a leader. Sometimes, other people can see mistakes that we are making that we cannot see on our own. Instead of brushing off criticism and looking for someone else to blame, take the time to reflect on what was said and determine what you can do to turn it into a growth opportunity.
Q: How do you feel when someone comes to you with criticism? How do you feel when you have to deliver criticism? What do you think the difference is between constructive criticism and a complaint? How can you change the way you view criticism so that you respond more positively when it is time to receive or give criticism?
How to handle constructive criticism
1. Pause before responding.
2. Avoid getting defensive.
If you try to redirect blame or get defensive, you will cause people to avoid giving you constructive feedback in the future.
“Leaders that don’t listen will find themselves surrounded by people that have nothing to say.” - Andrew Stanley
3. Don’t take it personally:
Criticism is not a reflection on you as a person. It is just one person’s observation about one of your decisions or opinions.
Receiving feedback is by no means an indication that you’re a bad leader, but merely an opportunity to grow.
4. Listen and understand:
Listen without interrupting.
When they are done, mirror back what you heard. For example: “Here’s what I am hearing you say….”
Thank them for sharing. Expressing appreciation doesn’t mean you agree with them, but it does show you acknowledge them.
5. Reflect and ask questions:
If you genuinely disagree with the constructive criticism, it’s ok to say that. For example, “I didn’t realize this is how it made you feel, and I’m glad you told me. From my perspective, I feel that….”
This step is also about deconstructing the feedback and asking for specific examples to help you better understand the issue. For example: “Can you share where in the meeting you felt I reacted this way?”
6. Make a plan.
Focus on fixing the issue and making a plan, not on how you feel about the situation.
Let it go, and move on.
7. Allow criticism to build a growth mindset:
People with a fixed mindset believe that their personal traits and skills are unchangeable.
People with a growth mindset embrace criticism because they believe that their skills and personal characteristics are flexible and use criticism as an opportunity to grow and change.
Q: When was the last time your leadership was criticized? Was the criticism directed at you personally or at your leadership decision? How did you respond? What were the results of your response? What might have happened if you had responded differently?
Q: How can you create a culture of constructive criticism within your organization?
I have never seen a greater time in my life that we, as leaders, need to be decisive and listen at the same time. Our teams are counting on us more than ever. As you make crucial decisions, expect criticism, but don’t let it derail you from pursuing your purpose.
Think about the last time you received criticism. Was it in person, or did you hear about it second-hand? Was it recently? Or has it been several weeks or months? If it has been a while since an employee came to you directly with criticism, you might need to work on creating a culture where people feel more comfortable sharing their different perspectives. Using the tips in this podcast, invite your employees to share their criticism at your next meeting. Focus on taking in the information and listening, not responding or defending your position.
Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? If you’re not sure, try this quiz here. If you have a fixed mindset, work on developing some positive rituals that will help retrain your brain. For example, as part of your morning routine, say: “I can learn something new and better myself today,” or “Every obstacle helps me become better and stronger.”
Work on instilling a growth mindset in your team members. In your next meeting, take note of how they respond to criticism. If they get defensive, take time to address it and summarize some of the points in this podcast. Remember that you are trying to build a culture of feedback, and that means that everyone has to be on board with both giving and receiving it.