The art of handling negative critique

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Sometimes when talking with managers, a question comes up, “When I am asked to communicate a message from the company, and it’s a message that I personally don’t believe in, how do I communicate to my team, in an authentic way?”

It seems the dilemma for people is that they don’t want to be dishonest in their views and they also know that agreeing with their teams negative opinions, will lead to a spiral of negativity that will end up being de-motivating.  The temptation in this instance is often to keep the relationship with their team by agreeing that the message or company direction is not a good one. The problem is, this undermines an individual’s relationship with the organisation, and the employee’s motivation and morale.

Motivate - Saving Private Ryan (Courtesy of Dreamworks SKG-Paramount Pictures) - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

I think Tom Hanks in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ deals with this delicate situation really well.  His team do not believe in the mission they have been sent on. They respect their leader, and so they ask what his opinion of the mission is.  After listening to them, he responds that he thinks it’s an excellent mission, well worthy of their best efforts, and I think it has a positive effect on the morale of his troops. Here’s the video for reference.

It also has a nice message about how to shape your teams gripes.  Later in the film it transpires that he doesn’t believe in the mission at all.  My take on it is that he is more concerned with his team (their morale and motivation), than he is of his own opinions.

So if as a manager you can’t believe in the message or the direction the company is taking, perhaps it would be helpful to change your perspective?  Imagine that you are the person responsible for the decision or message you don’t agree with. Force yourself to take their view point and to ask yourself, “Why is it a good thing?”  What was the motivation behind it? What is the person trying to achieve with it? It’s not about positive thinking, it’s about consciously and deliberately taking a different perspective in order to help and motivate your team.

James@Bluesky

James Hodgkinson - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Blue Sky Performance Improvement

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