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.

Giving Your Employees a Slice of the Decision-Making-Pie

We talk a lot on this blog about the importance of letting your employees know that they matter. One way to really let your employees know that they make a difference is by giving them what we’d like to call “a slice of the decision-making-pie.”

Simply put, when someone knows their contributions are directly influencing the decision making process, then they actually feel like they are making an impact on the company. In turn, they realize their importance, which will most likely boost their productivity and drive.

It’s important to get your employees involved in the decision-making process, and here’s why:

Employees have great insight into your company

You don’t need to be the CEO to have good insight into what’s going on within the company—in fact, employees might actually have a lot more to say about a certain area than you do as the big boss.

We don’t want to turn this into an “us against them” battle—because it isn’t—but it’s very important to recognize that when your employees are working hard on a specific task every day, they’re likely to have insights that you wouldn’t about that subject.

These insights are great assets to have, but many employers don’t take advantage of them because they aren’t confident enough in what their employees have to say. In that case, your employees are much more likely to hold back, keeping you out of the loop and slowing down what could be high productivity.

To make the most of your employees’ insights, start by letting your employees know that their contributions matter, and that what they have to say actually does influence the decision-making process. Employees are the backbone of the company, so it should go without saying that they matter—but if they don’t know that, then good luck getting some of that great first-hand knowledge they possess.

Giving employees a say creates a seamless work environment

The last thing you want in your office is some kind of “class warfare”. As TLNT contributor Tim Sackett points out, “to be truly power-less, sucks.” If an employee feels like their opinion doesn’t matter, then they will more than likely feel like their work doesn’t matter. In turn, their drive will crash and burn, which won’t do much to help you or your company.

To help combat this, do your best to level the playing field. As we mentioned above, letting your employees know that their contributions matter is an important part of making them feel appreciated. Don’t make them feel like they’re second-rate and that they’re just another cog in the machine, otherwise you might see some serious burnout.

Giving your employees a say in the decision-making process can do wonders for the company. You already know how much your employees matter—so why not show them?

Why Your Corporate Mission Should Read Loud and Clear

A recent blog post on TLNT outlined some research that revealed a pretty interesting statistic. What they found is that many employees have higher job satisfaction when a company is clear about their corporate mission (and when they actually follow-through with that mission).

The 2013 Emerging Workforce Study, published by Spherion, found that an overwhelming majority of employees surveyed (70%) reported higher job satisfaction working for companies with a clear corporate mission statement and follow-through of that mission, compared to just 23% of employees whose companies have no clear mission.

The study also reported the following:

  • 70% of the respondents who worked for a company with a clear mission rated the likelihood of staying with their current employer for the next 5 years as excellent/very good. On the other hand, only 34% who worked for an employer with no clear corporate mission felt the same.
  • 53% of those working for an employer with a clear mission and follow-through rated their growth potential at their current job as excellent/very good. For those working under an employer with no clear mission, only 20% responded with excellent/very good.
  • When asked if they were at least somewhat likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months, only 21% of respondents at a company with a clear mission answered yes. For those who worke for an employer with no clear mission? Nearly double amount of respondents (41%) said they’d toyed with the idea of looking for a new job within a year’s time.

So, what can we take away from all of this?

As we’ve talked about in the past, in recent years, employees have put more focus on taking stock of the companies they work for. Having a clear understanding of an organization’s mission statement is one way that employees gauge their job satisfaction, which in turn can either benefit or put your company at a disadvantage.

Here are a few other key things to consider:

  • The values of employees change all the time. As such, an employer needs to be aware of these values and take them into consideration. For example, the values and priorities of Millennials are much different than Gen X’s and Boomers. If you are hiring more Millennials (which you most likely are), then you need to factor in their wants and needs.
  • The more your employees understand about your company, its goals, cultural fit, etc, the better a chance you have of retaining these individuals. Now more than ever, employees want to feel like they’re making a difference, and that they are playing an integral part in accomplishing the mission of the company they work for.

While corporate missions may have previously been just a small part of any company’s overall approach to doing business, this study shows that such missions are truly cornerstones of the employee process.

What benefits do you see of having a mission that reads loud and clear to your employees? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

When to Reassess Your Company Culture (And How to Change It): Part II

Yesterday, we gave you a few tips on how often you should assess your company culture. Today, we’re going to finish our two-part post and talk about how to change your company culture for the better.

Here are a few important things to do when trying to change your company culture:

Be honest.

One very important thing when it comes to successfully changing your company culture is honesty. Be honest with yourself: is your company culture getting in the way of your organization’s goals or mission?

Consider every angle and never oversimplify the problems in front of you–sugarcoating won’t get you anywhere. Rather, show your employees that this change is for the better by rewarding those who are willing to help you change. And, for those struggling with the change, it might be a good time for them to re-think their place in the company.

The blunt truth can go a long way when it comes to making big changes. Just take a look at Stephen Edwards’–CEO of the fast food chain Così–approach when it came to turning his company around. His method? Brutal honesty.

Start from the top.

Changing your company culture should start with how your leadership functions.

Assess what kind of culture you want your company to have, and show your employees how to go about working towards those goals. Whether you’re the CEO or a basic team leader, you need to set the standards for your employees–not the other way around.

Show that you are authentic by putting yourself out there, implementing the change yourself.

Above all, communicate.

As we’ve mentioned before, communication is absolutely critical. If you’re not doing your part to communicate how you want your company culture to change, then chances are that your changes will fall flat. So show your employees that you’re serious.

We’ve already mentioned rewarding your employees for making an effort. Here are some other things to consider:

  • Ask them what they think. This is one is easy. Ask them what works and what doesn’t. How do they see these changes affecting them? Good or bad? Your employees’ opinions are important.
  • Ask them often. Don’t wait for annual reviews before you see if things begin to change. As we mentioned in our last post, some would even argue for reviews every six months.
  • Rank your priorities. Make sure that everyone is on the same page by giving them a list of what is most important to you and what changes you really want to see, and let them know why they rank this way.

Changing your company culture can be a long and arduous process, especially if you haven’t had a good change or assessment in a while. But company culture is an absolutely critical element of any successful organization, so if you need to make any changes, now is as good of a time as ever.

We hope that these tips can help make that process easier. If you have any questions or comments, let us know your thoughts by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter.

When to Reassess Your Company Culture (And How to Change It): Part I

We talk about company culture a lot–and for good reason.

Having a company culture that is both fun and efficient can do wonders with helping your company grow.

Unfortunately, many companies are unsure about where to start. In this two-part post, we’re going to give you a quick guide on when to reassess your company culture, and how to change it for the better.

How often should you be thinking about your company culture?

Believe it or not, you really should be thinking about your company culture all the time. Ideally, you should always be on the lookout for ways to improve your company.

But that doesn’t mean that you should fret over every little thing and try to change things with the snap of your fingers. Instead, think about keeping a list of notes on what you think should be changed about your company culture.

This makes it easier to map out what changes are absolutely necessary, and what changes would be a plus, but can wait. In turn, changes to company culture will be executed in a much more efficient manner, giving you the maximum benefits.

With that in mind, here are signs that it may be time to reassess your company culture:

Your company is expanding and becoming more diverse.

As your company gets bigger and diversifies, so will your company culture. If this happens, start thinking about your goals and mission, and see if they match the direction you find your company evolving towards.

Your company is struggling with communication.

Communication is key to running an efficient company, and one way to ensure that your employees are communicating properly is through having a great company culture with clear ideals and goals. If you see a lack of communication amongst your employees, that may be an indication that it’s time to change the way you operate daily.

One branch of your company is excelling, while others aren’t.

If you see that one branch of yours doing much better than the others, try to find the source. Although it obviously could be any number of things, you shouldn’t rule out company culture as a source of tension. Is there too much stress on employees, or not enough organization to get things done? Many of the sources you’ll find can actually be traced back to a problem with the culture at work.

There’s no magic date or number when it comes to reassessing (some companies assess every six months), but we think it should happen somewhat frequently. Keeping your company culture up to date is a great way to help improve your organization.

Check back tomorrow when we talk about how to change your company culture. In the mean time, if you have any questions or comments, let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!