The majority of employees detest critical feedback. If an employee is used to their supervisor praising them, hearing that they didn’t live up to expectations or did something improperly at work can severely blow their ego.
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However, criticism is an unavoidable aspect of professional life, so you should take it seriously.
Why? Because it might just be the secret to your employee and company’s success. Here, we look at three reasons harsh feedback works and how to take it.
1. The Best Leaders Demand It
Nearly 1000 employees responded to a study by Zenger Folkman that supports the idea of getting negative feedback at work. They replied that receiving constructive criticism and being made aware of mistakes helped them perform better than receiving compliments and accolades, nearly three to one.
Seventy-two percent of respondents believe that receiving honest and frequent performance reviews from managers would help them perform better, even if it meant taking some bad news.
Negative feedback and personal critiques present a learning opportunity. It inspires and motivates you to evaluate yourself and your company from the inside out to see if there’s a better way of doing things. Negative feedback is sometimes even more helpful (and insightful) than positive input, even though it could slightly hurt one’s ego. Most importantly, it allows you to evaluate existing practices, create better solutions, and grow your leadership practice and, ultimately, your business.
2. Increases Self-Awareness (And Helps You Know What Is Lurking Behind Corners)
Your success may depend on how thoughtfully you handle feedback. If you are unconsciously incompetent, you are on the road to derailing. Therefore, direct feedback is a must to make employees self-aware. For employees to fully understand the impact of their actions, feedback must be received and interpreted by them.
Most people’s natural response to criticism is to get defensive. It can link to how most people handle unfavorable feedback because, as we know, hearing negative things about oneself can be difficult.
Therefore, regardless of how it might make them feel, leaders must allow their direct reports to give them feedback. It’s not always a bad thing just because someone makes you uncomfortable. Being able to accept unpleasant realities about yourself requires a mature mindset. You need other people to assist you in taking a step back and assessing your situation as a leader. And it is the first step to helping you become self-aware through harsh feedback.
Feedback can elicit sentiments of social rejection. So, it makes sense that your direct report would be worried about upsetting you and their relationship with you. To alleviate feelings of social rejection, place yourself in their shoes first. By taking the initiative and providing constructive criticism to yourself first, you can help others’ anxieties and show that you are self-aware. Point out any workplace habit that hampers your ability as a leader. Be subtle but candid enough to get your direct report talking and open to any feedback on their work that you may want to communicate to them.
3. Increases Emotional Agility
According to conventional thinking, emotions are taboo at work: CEOs, and leaders, in particular, ought to be joyful, exude confidence, and quell any internal negativity. But that contradicts fundamental biology. Every healthy person has an inner stream of ideas and emotions, including skepticism, anxiety, and criticism.
Successful leaders don’t buy into or try to repress their inner feelings. Instead, they address problems in a thoughtful, values-based, and beneficial manner, growing in what we refer to as emotional agility. This ability to control one’s thoughts and emotions is crucial for professional success in our complicated, quickly evolving knowledge economy.
To become emotionally agile, you must first learn to recognize when your emotions and thoughts have you trapped. Although it’s challenging, there are specific warning signals. One is that your thoughts start to become repetitious and inflexible. Another is that the tale your mind is spinning appears stale like it’s replaying an earlier encounter.
Trouble comes from one’s environment and cognitive and emotional processes. Before you can start making changes, you must acknowledge that you are stuck.
When you’re too attached to them, the attention you give your emotions and thoughts fills your mind and leaves little place for reflection. The process of labeling is one way you can approach your problem more objectively.
By giving your thoughts and emotions labels, you can recognize them as transient information sources that may or may not be helpful.
Examining the situation’s reality and practicing compassion toward oneself and others is vital.
You have more options when you free yourself from challenging thoughts and feelings. You can choose to make decisions that reflect your ideals.
We urge leaders to focus on the workability concept: Will your feedback benefit you and your company in the short and long term? Will it aid you in guiding others toward a goal that advances your company’s mission? Are you moving closer to becoming the kind of leader you want to be and leading the kind of life you want to lead? Thoughts in mind never stop, emotions change like the environment, but values exercise at any moment or circumstance.
Always remember that constructive criticism, positive or negative, is a show of interest and a desire to see you succeed. It would be much worse if someone saw you doing substandard work and said nothing. You’ll be a much better employee (or leader) if you take criticism and know what to do about it.