We often think that giving the benefit of the doubt is a good habit: It means we assume the best of intentions when others do or say something that we don’t like, or when their actions go against what we’ve agreed to. Team members will often show their loyalty by agreeing in principle to never doubt each others’ best intentions. This is a good habit for those who are quick to criticize, quick to judge intentions as evil,
Last blog talked about how to reframe your role as performance manager so that you are critiquing vs. criticizing. This helps you remember the personal investment that people make in their work. Leaders often say, “don’t take it personally” when confronted with the dismay of the criticized. More often they are too busy to see how hard their words have landed. Critiquing, instead of forcing people to disengage from their work, allows you to acknowledge their personal pride.
How would this way of critiquing change the delivery of corrective feedback?
Every leader faces the dilemma of how to motivate others to do their best, while correcting them when they don’t. Just this week the news coverage of the Ebola health crisis gave us the sensationalized story of this duality. We read stories of politicians who publicly praise their staff, and then deliver scathing scolding in private meetings and leaked memos. Such stories resonant with us because they mirror what happens in our workplaces. Staff who experience this oscillating between the “carrot and the stick” quickly become cynical and mistrustful.