Taking Criticism from Your Supervisors–the Right Way

Yesterday, we talked about why it is important for leaders to learn to criticize their employees the right away.

As we mentioned, the word “criticize” always seems to get a bad rap, bringing to mind negative connotations and in turn, putting leaders in a bind when it comes to properly addressing an issue, for fear of offending or putting down their employees.

But, leaders aren’t entirely to blame—criticism is a two-way process—which is why today, we’re going to talk about the right way for employees to take criticism from their supervisors. Take a look below:

Listen carefully

First things, first: you need to listen to what is being said. Hearing out your team leader is the first big step to taking criticism. Sure, in some instances the criticism may be unwarranted, but if you aren’t listening to what they are saying, how would you be able to defend yourself, especially when you don’t even know what you are being criticized for?

Think first, feel later (read: be objective)

Rather than jump the gun and say to yourself “how dare they!”, consider why your team leader is coming to you in the first place, and isolate the issue before coming to any conclusions. We’re not saying you shouldn’t take what they say personally—it does, after all, concern how you work—but in order to make sense of what is being said, you need to think about the criticism in regards to the company as a whole.

For example, if your team leader sees that you aren’t being as thorough as you should be on a project and speaks up about it, consider why they brought it up in the first place. Perhaps it is a group project, which means that the work you are putting together has the potential to negatively affect the work the rest of the group is doing.

Considering the main issue at hand helps to avoid any future problems, shows that you are willing to grow as an individual, and prevents you from letting down your peers simply because you weren’t willing to take a valid criticism.

Ask questions

Sometimes, it can be hard to see the big picture, or why your team leader is coming to you in the first place. In instances such as these, it’s always a good idea to ask questions, especially specifics.

Not only does this help you determine the real issue, but it shows your team leader that you are willing to do whatever it takes remedy the situation. Perhaps it may even help you both realize that you weren’t responsible for the problem in the first place, helping alleviate the situation.

Not all criticism is bad criticism. In fact, we think it should mean an opportunity for improvement, and one way to help ensure that is by making sure you take the proper steps to address your critics and what they have to say. If you don’t, you’ll never learn from the experience, so take your criticism in stride and work towards being a better employee.

How to Criticize your Employees the Right Way

When you hear the word “criticize,” the things that come to mind are mostly negative. We tend to think of things like nagging, failure, punishment, disapproval… and the list goes on.

Word associations like these make it difficult to address issues in the workplace, whether it’s because employees will actually take what we say the wrong way or because we’re afraid of being honest, for fear of how we think they’ll react. This is something we talked about last week when we wrote about why team leaders need to honest with theirs employees.

As a result, it can be really hard to get things done, let alone get them done right.

The source of why people don’t take criticism lightly is all over the place; some argue that it starts with leaders, while others think it has to do with an employee’s low threshold for critiques. We think it comes from both, which is why we’re going to explain the right ways that leaders should criticize, and the right way for employees to take criticism.

For today, we’re going to focus on the leaders–and how you can criticize your employees the right way. Take a look below:

Check your tone 

Tone is one of the first things people notice when they are being addressed, so be aware of how you’ll speak, before you speak. It’s easy to get off track and sound frustrated; even if you are frustrated, it’s key not to let that show through too much.

Consider your employee’s perspective

You should also always keep in mind your employee’s perspective. You are, after all, a higher-up, and potentially have the power (or at least some say) in whether or not they get to keep their job, so be aware of how intimidating you may come off.

If anything, you might want to declare your intentions from the get-go. Letting them know how serious the issue is is one way to level the playing field. 

Pick the right time and place

Just because the moment is convenient for your doesn’t necessarily mean it’s convenient for your employee. Picking the right time and place can make a whole world of difference. If you notice that they are particularly busy at the moment, then you might want hold off because frankly, no one wants to be told they’re doing something wrong and then have to go back to a heavy workload.

You don’t need to tip-toe around your employee, but finding them in the right mood will make things goes much smoother.

Keep things balanced 

If the only time you address an employee is when you have an issue with them, then that is something you need to fix right away. Try providing positive feedback so that when it comes time to address an issue, your employee won’t think that all you see in them is failure. It’s also a good idea to provide some sort of feedback or advice when you criticize your employees in order to soften the blow.

Criticism doesn’t have to be negative. If anything, we think it should mean an opportunity for improvement, which no employee should ever take the wrong way. How and when you say things really affects your message when you criticize your employees, so it’s best to always keep that in mind. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.

Have any tips for addressing issues with your employee? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!