Start by asking for criticism, not giving it

May 11, 2021
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

“I want our team to be open and honest with each other. You should feel like you can say anything to me.”

This was one of my first speeches as a new manager, years ago.


I quickly learned that this was not the approach to create a culture of trust and open communication.

The best bosses I’ve had don’t ask for this behavior. They model it.

In other words, they solicit criticism. One even got on my case when I wasn’t being honest with her.

Some may say inviting criticism is weak, but look up the definition of strength in a dictionary. Strength is not defined by the ability to remain untarnished, but as “the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure.”

Today, when I ask people for feedback, I take a page from Robert Redford, who starts meetings at the Sundance Film Festival by saying, “I am inviting you to influence me. I want to be different when this meeting is over.”

And if a teammate is bold enough to actually criticize you, don’t criticize the criticism! If you do, all they’ll hear is: “haha, fooled you. I don’t really care what you think.”


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