Four steps to take when your team is criticised

Criticism comes across to many people as a bitter pill to swallow. Be it constructive or destructive, handling criticism at work requires level-headedness. Whole teams or individual members can receive criticism, which is generally disapproval or blame for a mistake. Whenever criticism arises, team leaders, managers and supervisors are expected to act as shock absorbers. Their intervention is pivotal in keeping the team performant and productive. As a leader, what do you do when someone criticises a team member? Here are four steps to take when your team is criticized in order to maintain a healthy, positive and productive workspaceStep 1: Stand by that person

Always remember you’re a team! If somebody criticises a team member, they criticize the entire team. As the head of the team or head of the department, you have to defend your team members. Your intervention is required and nobody else can do this aside from you. Your team members should be reassured that if they have a problem they should come straight to you. By showing you are approachable and open to any criticism, you will encourage people to come directly to you and not to your team members.

Step 2: Express faith in your team member

Reassure the critic that you trust your team member to deliver and perform the work required. It is important to show that you trust this team member to know and do exactly what this project requires and that you are convinced that she or he did everything they could and to the best of her or his abilities.

Step 3: Trust the person who is doing the criticising

Critics are often perceived as ‘bad’ people, but are they really that bad? Do not let that terrible feeling that comes with receiving criticism prevent you from tactfully handling criticism.

Be calm and listen to the critic, as this could actually lead to greater productivity and improved results. Besides, the critic could just have noticed a nuance between what is expected and what is delivered. Usually, a simple explanation sorts the problem out. Thank the person for the criticism and start a conversation by saying, “Okay, let’s see if we can match your expectations with what we can deliver.” You can do that with the team member included, or you can do it just with the critic.

No matter what, that conversation needs to take place! Avoid the pitfall of giving a solution right there on the spot. Simply say, “I thank you for your insights and I’ll come back to you later.”

Most teams soar on the wings of constructive criticism. How about taking the lessons back to your team? In the course of your discussion with the critic, take notes. You might have different ideas about how or when to deliver, or not to deliver at all. Find out if the team needs to change their approach or stick to the original idea. Either way is fine, as long as you’re clear about it.

Step 4: Be transparent

Be transparent about your support towards your team member. Be transparent about what you deliver and the faith you have in your team’s ability to deliver. Accept that criticism is always given with the best intention of improving a situation. That is why there are also healthy ways of dealing with criticism in the workplace.

This is largely the intention of critics. In the rare occasion where it’s your team member who is not up to the task, remember to state your faith and belief in that team member. Get back to your team member with feedback and do an assessment. Are they up to it? Are they able? Do they have the right tools and the right knowledge? Do they feel supported enough to be able to do what is expected of them? If this is not the case, source for a solution elsewhere.

Now that you have the four steps you need to take to be able to successfully and constructively handle the criticism, it is time for implementation. Let us know how it went or if you use a different technique.

Were these steps helpful to you as a team leader? Do you want more insight into your role in helping your team members cope with criticism? Book a Discovery Call and let’s have a chat. You can read more about me here.

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