The Critique

I recently re-read Mindset by Carol Dweck for a book club and a passage jumped out at me I had missed previously. In it the author is talking about the mindset of a student when they had received a heavily critiqued research journal they had submitted for publication and was ‘stuck in a rut’. The following paragraph is copy/pasta from the book on how the author helped provide a different perspective.

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“Look,” I said, “it’s not about you. That’s their job. Their job is to find every possible flaw. Your job is to learn from the critique and make your paper even better.” Within hours she was revising her paper, which was warmly accepted. She tells me: “I never felt judged again. Never. Every time I get that critique, I tell myself, ‘Oh, that’s their job,’ and I get to work immediately on my job.”

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Hopefully you’ve already got the openness to receive criticism as an opportunity to grow, but if not, go read the book (you can thank me later)! I want to focus on the other half, which is, part of your job is to give feedback to your team members. I know what you’re thinking “Feedback, isn’t that the manager’s job?” If you’re on a team then being a contributing team member is helping hold each other accountable.

As a manager I’ve often received feedback to share with my directs and I’ve encouraged the person to share it directly instead of via proxy. It’s generally an easy request when it’s positive but can be a little squeamish when it’s constructive. In either scenario I try to articulate how I would want to receive the feedback if it was for me. Would I want it to come via my peer that I’m working with or my boss (the guy who has the subtle blinking neon light above his head that says “I can fire you”)?

Like clockwork, as someone’s yearly review starts approaching, we all get the email to provide them or their manager with feedback on how they are doing (I literally got one as I wrote this). Everyone who seeks to be a professional, to continue growing and developing themselves towards mastery, seeks out those points of feedback. Why hold onto them until a year has passed? Why hold on to them at all? Give them in the moment. Give them right when they are going to have the most impact. Give them frequently. It’s part of your job!

Need help on an effective way to give feedback? Check out the Manager Tools model.

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