by Kenneth L. Greenberg
When leaders and managers are faced with small talk in the form criticism of either of an organization or themselves, we find too frequently the impulsive reaction is to dismiss the negativity and the negative people.
We suggest, and others concur, that this dismissal may be a mistake. One of our white papers contains numerous sources on why critics both outside and inside a organization need a voice. These critics are often passionate about your organization or you, but cannot artfully voice the desire for you or your organization to improve. Worse, when you ignore them, they are denied an opportunity to contribute, collaborate and feel part of a organization. Disengagement leads to unhappiness, which, in turn, leads to lowered productivity. As a result you lose an opportunity to keep your critics engaged in your success. Certain credible research suggests if a organization disengages from both internal and external critics and they in turn disengage from you, their passion for your Organization can become destructive.
Properly harnessed criticism and complaints can be turned into constructive feedback that can be used to improve professional development programs, products, services and strategic planning.
Criticism directed toward management or leadership is where 360°surveys come in. Properly constructed, 360° tools can contain criticism and filter it into credible, valid and recognized leadership and management skill categories. Not only are critics given a voice, but also a platform to constructively and candidly engage with company management and leadership. This engagement can lead to meaningful behavior change by management and leadership. Research has proven that, if the correct behavior change is sustained, it will improve an Organization’s effectiveness.
Custom surveys can be used to capture qualitative data and feedback about products and services. Properly constructed with statistical validity, these surveys can help interpret changing consumer tastes, competitive threats and demographic trends. Also, this data can be used as leading-edge indicators that drive innovation efforts and strategic planning. We also believe risk identification and risk management can be aided by a properly constructed survey tool.
While criticism may be misdirected or downright mean-spirited, using survey tools can contain the criticism and engage the criticizer. Done right, survey tools will filter the feedback into useful and meaningful data that can be used to improve leaders, managers and thereby improve the productivity and profitability of your Organization.
Many experts in organization development also believe the integration of qualitative data from internal stakeholders such as employees, managers, board members, etc. is a critical part of creating balanced scorecard tools that measure the performance and effectiveness of a organization. When properly analyzed and integrated into the strategic planning process, these tools can help organizations learn and drive change initiatives that promote growth and profitability.
Kenneth L. Greenberg is the CEO of KLG Consultants, LLC a Talent Acquisition and Management firm based in Colorado. The firm provides large company C-Level talent on an outsourced and permanent hire basis to organizations of all sizes.