Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Cost of Criticism

Those of us in leadership positions frequently find ourselves with opportunities to give negative feedback. We learn quickly that there is a cost to giving negative feedback even when it is completely constructive. That cost comes in the form of a drop in our team member's morale and a reduction in the quality of his or her relationship with you.

Each time you incur this cost you need to pay it off with what Stephen Covey would call a deposit in the emotional bank account. You need to earn back increased morale and a positive relationship. Thankfully, this is something we can earn in advance of needing it. One effective currency is to balance our feedback with healthy doses of positive feedback and appreciation.

The other aspect to consider in giving negative feedback is to decide if it is worth the cost. Not every bit of feedback that comes into our minds is worth conveying to the people on our teams. It is noteworthy that the most trivial feedback often comes at the highest cost. That is because it can come off as condescending and runs the risk of highlighting "stupid mistakes."

Don't be the leader who rides your team with constant trivial feedback. Give them the opportunity to learn on their own, and the respect of believing they can figure some things out on their own. Consider the cost of every bit of negative feedback and make sure you pay back that cost with praise and thanks.

No comments: