Simon Terry

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Seek out criticism

An absence of criticism is not a good sign.  Seek out the feedback that you are missing.

If you are not receiving regular criticism, then you may be missing out on valuable feedback.  For a leader or an organisation, a lack of feedback usually means one of three things needs to be checked:

  • Listening to the right people:  Talking to fans and supporters is usually easy.  They approach you and are eager to share their praise.  You may need to seek out critics and the disaffected.  Broaden your conversations and start asking for feedback.  Look at the margins and look for information that is being discarded because it is incomplete, inconsistent or inconvenient.
  • Encouraging feedback: We all recognise the signs of a leader or an organisation that asks for feedback but doesn’t want any criticism.  It can be a simple as praise being recorded by you but all complaints must be put in writing by the other person. People know how to respond with caution when they see those signals.  Make sure that your behaviours, systems and processes encourage and celebrate negative feedback as a learning process.  Show how you have responded positively to negative feedback and made changes.  Otherwise negative feedback will be actively concealed or actively discouraged.
  • Stop pleasing everyone:  You can’t satisfy everyone.  People are dissatisfied with every change and every business. Everyone expect you to have a specific & unique point of view.  There is a real danger that you don’t stand for anything, that you might not be taking enough risks, that you aren’t targeted enough and that you are sitting in the safe middle ground.  Hearing the right criticism is an important sign that you are achieving your specific plan.  Being generally good won’t get you where you want to go. 

Voice is a critical component to guide our actions.  We all need to encourage as much positive and negative feedback as we can.

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