Listening to criticism

by Fabrice Calando on November 30, 2011

Listening to criticism

I’ve been thinking about criticism a lot recently. Whether you believe constructive criticism exists or not, feedback at work is more present than you think. The thing is, most of us don’t want to hear it. And that makes sense…it’s usually nothing we want to hear. We don’t want to hear we aren’t attentive to detail or not seeing big picture. We don’t want to hear we’re not team players or disorganized. I think most feedback isn’t official. it’s all over the place and you have to go hunting and looking for that information.

But here is the thing: feedback is vital to growth and improvement and in many ways directly related to getting promoted. Here are a few ideas on how to keep yourself open to feedback.

Listen in status meetings. Not all companies have broad vision statements that mean much. Status meetings tend to be horrible and one-on-one are rare, but make the most of them. Managers, Directors, VPs and CEOs often will talk about where they want the company to head or where the industry is heading. Ask yourself: “How is my day-to-day tasks and my personal objectives fitting in with that vision?”.

Talk to coworkers. Don’t get bogged down with day-to-day stuff, but reach out to top perfumers (top sales, top marketers, top analytics, top SEO, etc.) to see and learn how they’re doing. A-list employees often like to mentor and teach…see what you can learn yourself.

Read and learn. Sometimes looking outwards will challenge you to think differently about how you’re doing work. The reality is that upper management doesn’t always have a far enough foresight. It’s not their fault, they’re measured on the next quarter’s results, not where the division will be in five years. Here are some blog suggestions that might help you look beyond your day-to-day (they’re not all business blogs):

These are great for daily inspiration, but real value, I think, still come from books. They’re able to tell complete stories. Some suggestions (all affiliate links):

Think big. See bigger for yourself. Where do you want to go and where do you want to be and figure out how to get there.

Know thyself. It’s important to know who you are and what your strengths are. Focusing on your strengths, not your weaknesses, is the best way to move forward. If you’re just not detail oriented, then you’re not detail oriented. It’s just not efficient to spend all your time spending more attention to details — you’ll get bored and frustrated. What you want to do is use your strength and improve. So what if the criticism is in fact “you’re not attentive to detail enough”? The answer either is “you’re not doing the right thing” or “how can we get it done anyway”.

What’s your take? What could you add?

(Photo credit: Sanna Pudas)

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