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Leadership Skills #2 - Criticism

Part 2/10
Responding to complaints and criticism


Good leaders use their skills to develop their people and to encourage their involvement and participation in planning for the teams success. This means that team members will sometimes voice opposing opinions on how things should be done.

Sometimes these opinions are expressed as complaints and criticism. Your credibility as a leader, in part, hinges on how you respond. 

To maintain a healthy relationship with team members who lodge a complaint or criticism, you must listen, demonstrate your concern, and take appropriate action.

LISTENING

When team members express dissatisfaction, they will look for evidence that they are being heard. In a face to face situation, Maintain eye contact, nod to indicate agreement without interrupting. Ask relevant questions and periodically paraphrase what has been said to be sure you understood.

Resist the urge to become defencive. Don't interrupt with a rebuttal before the point has been made.

BE WILLING TO ACT

Show that you are willing to act, even if it is just to make an initial investigation. Be responsive. Don't ignore criticism in the hope that it will go away. It won't...it will just escalate.

Even if the concern seems to be unwarranted, avoid being dismissive. Don't say things such as "there's nothing that can be done" or "don't worry, it will work itself out".

Invite involvement. Use phrases like; "i value your opinion", "I'd like to hear your take on this", or "what would you suggest?". Use these conversations as opportunities to identify possible areas for improvement.

The ability to deal with complaints and concerns is just one of the skills that you need to be an effective leader. To maintain your credibility and to take advantage of opportunities for making improvements, you need to listen to concerns, demonstrate interest, and take appropriate action.


THEORY ASSESSMENT
have you read the assignment technique module?

1. You're a line manager...one of your subordinates contacts you disagreeing with a decision you have made. They are polite, however they are obviously upset. You need to come up with a resolution.

     a) Outline the importance of taking the time to understand the problem before acting. (4)

     b) Describe how you would resolve this issue and draft a generic reply for this situation (8)

     c) Explain the negative effects that could come from poor handling of this situation. Use examples. (12)