Turning Criticism into a Game Plan


One of the most difficult things I have learned is how to take and process criticism.  Nobody likes to be criticized, but if you are a leader – criticism will come.  Part of the leadership identity is determining who to take criticism from and what to do with it. Those of us with a job, receive feedback from our direct manager/supervisor. It is hard to get a poor performance review, but it is necessary criticism when not meeting expectations. Every person should have an inner circle of friends and mentors to filter criticism through.

What to do when you receive criticism:

Proverbs 1:5 [Amplified Bible]

The wise also will hear and increase in learning, and the person of understanding will acquire skill and attain to sound counsel [so that he may be able to steer his course rightly]

Step 1: Hear

Receive the criticism. Do not defend yourself even if you feel justified. Your emotions are kicking in at the time of receiving criticism.  It is not the time to react. Take time to process what you’ve heard. Talk to your inner circle. This is a wise thing to do.

Step 2: Increase in Learning

There was a period in early my career where “tacky” repeatedly showed on my performance review or I heard it from co-workers.  I resisted the criticism because I felt I was a “sista that just kept it real and folks just can’t handle my blackness!” I finally got REAL tired of hearing that criticism not just at work but from friends.  I increased my learning in the area of people skills. I didn’t see the value of changing myself in order to succeed.  Become a lifelong learner of human dynamics if you consistently receive criticism in the area people skills or personality flaws.

Step 3: Acquire Skill

If the criticism is a weakness in skill to do the job, then take the initiative to fix the weakness.  Job shadow someone who’s performing similar work or the job itself. Find mentors, take classes, come up with a plan and talk to your manager. Your company may pay the bill for classes.  Above all, when you come up with your plan talk to your manager; this shows initiative, maturity in handling fierce conversations.  In other words, this earns you cool points.

Step 4: Attain Sound Council

A phenomenon I see in church I also see in Corporate America: negative people find each other, cling together and swap their stories of hardships and pain.  They hang out in packs never attaining anything but a emotional fix of someone agreeing with them. Sound council comes from people who care enough to tell you the truth. They tell you what you need to hear not what you want to hear.  I live and die by my inner circle. I don’t make decisions in a vacuum. This does not mean throw the responsibility of the decision on someone else. I hear the council and still make my own decision going in knowing what dangers may be out there and the repercussions of the decisions. Don’t listen to people who will tell you what you want to hear. That will get you nowhere fast!

Step 5: Steer your course

If you do steps 1-4, you can rest assured YOU are steering your course right!

How do you handle criticism?