23 July 2014

rootsI just came across the following quote about criticism and thought it was too good not to share. It read, “Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots”. What a great way of describing the delicate balance between supportive feedback and harsh criticism.

If I’m honest, criticism is a word I find quite problematic, as it has connotations of putting someone down. In my opinion, if this is what you do to others as a leader, you’re failing at your job! What I love about the above quote is the use of words like ‘nourish’ and ‘growth’ as they seem to underpin the very act of giving feedback. I like to think that helping somebody to develop is the motivation behind most ‘criticism’ although I suppose there might be managers out there who have ulterior motives. Hopefully, they’re in the minority.

Personally, I find that praise is much more effective than criticism for helping team members up their game. It certainly causes less pain. Never underestimate how easy it can be to ‘destroy someone’s roots’, especially if they usually set themselves very high standards. We’re all human, after all, and we all make mistakes. If you employ hardworking people, it’s likely that they will already have reprimanded themselves for any mistakes so coming in with criticism on top of that is only going to rub salt in the wound.

How do you handle criticism? And what’s the best way to keep it productive?

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