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How to Offer Criticism Without Being Critical

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Today’s blog is about an important relationship-building tool. Learning how to offer criticism without being critical is important at work and home. It’s crucial for leaders and first-time managers.

It’s about understanding when to use your “active” voice and when to use your “passive” voice. It may sound simple, but it’s amazing how many times we get it wrong.

Today, we’ll quickly review active and passive voice, and offer some tips on how to use each one effectively.

Active voice
The subject of the sentence appears before the action. Stated more simply, the noun occurs before the verb. The active voice is often more direct and easier to follow.

For example, “You performed exceptionally well on this project.

Passive voice
The action appears in the sentence before the subject, if the subject appears at all. The verb comes first, the noun comes later.

So the example above, spoken in the passive voice would be, “This project was done exceptionally well by you.”

Note that this sentence actually sounds a little strange stated in the passive voice. That’s often the case.

Use the passive voice to offer criticism.
The passive voice has its uses. For example, which of the following two statements would you rather hear?

“You performed below expectations on this project”

“Expectations weren’t met on this project.”

The first example is in the active voice. So the focus is on “you”, not the “project”. The second example does the opposite – using the passive voice, it puts the focus on the project.

The second example sounds better on this go-around, doesn’t it? Can you picture yourself getting defensive with the first sentence? Probably so, because it screams, “You screwed up!”

So when you want to discuss anything negative, use your passive voice. You’ll find that your conversation is much more productive! They won’t feel backed into a corner. They feel more like you’re on their side. You’re not fixing the blame; you’re trying to fix the problem with their help.

Use the active voice to praise people.
Going back to our original example, we’ll bet you would feel great if your boss said, “You performed exceptionally well …”

Can you imagine how your performance would improve if your boss said something like that to you in front of all your co-workers? This is an incredible tool for managers to improve the morale of their troops.

So when you want to tell someone that they did something great, use your active voice. Put them first in your sentences. You’ll feel great because you’ll make them feel great!

Our BIGG quote today comes from Abraham Lincoln:
“He has a right to criticize, who has the heart to help.”

Actively accentuate the positives and eliminate the negatives with your passive voice.

Next time, we’ll discuss how to deal with a difficult co-worker. Until then, here’s to your BIGG success!

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file | podcast:
https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/biggsuccess/00128-050708.mp3

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How To Be A Terrible Boss

There’s an old saying that is supported by much research – people join companies; they leave their managers.With that in mind, we thought we’d share seven ways to drive your employees away.

George and Mary-Lynn are experts at driving people away. Listen to today’s show and you’ll find out why we say that!

#1 – Be indecisive.
Postpone making decisions. Send it to committee. Call in a consultant. Wait until you have ALL the information. Analyze EVERY alternative. There all kinds of ways to do this.

Instead of ready – aim – fire, you should get ready and then – aim – aim – aim …

#2 – Don’t let them know what you expect.
Don’t have a plan that you share with them. Don’t make goals or establish priorities. And don’t ever set a deadline. After all, if your people don’t know what you expect of them, they’ll never know how they’re doing. They’ll have to rely on you to tell them.

#3 – Be inaccessible.
Don’t spend too much time at the office. When you do, keep your door shut. Or, if you do keep it open, always look like you’re too busy to talk to any of your employees. They don’t have anything important to discuss anyway, right?

#4 – Be inflexible.

Always follow the rules, without exception. They’re not in place to provide a framework –they’re the law! Business must always come first – no matter what’s going on in your employees’ lives.

#5 – Be inconsistent.
What’s your mood today? Make decisions based on your emotions, not on the plan, policies, and precedents. Don’t treat all of your people all the same – show favoritism. Don’t worry about performance; take care of the people you like.

#6 – Make them feel unappreciated.
Don’t tell them when they do a good job. And when they don’t, criticize them in front of their peers. Oh, and don’t forget – be sure to openly discuss one employee’s faults with some other employee. That definitely will drive people away.

Quickly dismiss any ideas your employees have. Better yet, don’t even listen to them. And, whatever else you may do, don’t trust them with any major responsibilities.

# 7 – Don’t lead by example.
You should have one set of rules for you and another set of rules for your staff. They should do as you say, not as you do.

We need help – how can we keep from driving employees away?
Let us know by leaving a comment at the end of our blog.

Our Bigg Quote today comes from E.M. Kelly.

“The difference between a boss and a leader: a boss says, ‘Go!’ A leader says, ‘Let’s go!’”

So, if you want to drive your employees away, just keep driving them.

Next time, we’ll talk about how to reach your goals this week. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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3 Things Every Employee Wants

By Bigg Success Staff
01-11-08

Leadership Skills

duck_family

News on the job front is that employees are increasingly unhappy with their jobs. There’s an old saying:

People join companies. They leave bosses.

So if you’re the boss, you bear the brunt of the responsibility for making your employees’ work experience satisfying. Of course, some people are only happy if they’re unhappy. Hopefully, you weed those people out BEFORE you hire them!

So, we’ll assume that your 84 employees are generally happy people, which means they have the potential to be happy employees]. This may surprise you –

You are the single most important factor
in your employees’ level of job satisfaction!

That’s particularly important if your employees deal directly with customers. As you might know from The Service – Profit Chain:

Employee satisfaction⇒Customer satisfaction⇒Revenue growth⇒Profit growth

What can you do to make your employees happier? Many unseasoned managers think that people only want more money or more benefits. Give me … give me … give me!

That’s not the case, though. Check out what your good employees want from you:

    • They want to feel valued.

Your employees want to know that they aren’t just a “number” to you. That they matter! That you are genuinely interested in them. In helping them do their jobs better. Helping them build their skills. Helping them make their lives work. Show a genuine interest in your employees and you’ll be surprised what happens! Good people perform for good bosses.

    • They want to feel important.

Your employees want to understand how they make an impact. Help them understand the big picture and their role in it. Businesses and organizations serve people. Help them understand how they improve people’s lives. Share information about your business and industry. Discuss your goals and progress toward them. Make them a part of something bigger than just a job.

    • They want feedback, delivered properly.

Good employees want regular input on their job performance. You’re the person they expect to get it from. Make time for this incredibly important part of your job. When one of your employees does something exceptionally well, make a bigg deal out of it. Praise him or her as publicly as you possibly can. When they fall short of your expectations, offer constructive advice privately – one-on-one.

Don’t get so busy doing your job that you neglect your most important duty – to serve your people. Make this your top priority and you’ll find bigg success as a leader!

Hear today’s lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show. 

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Happy People Make Happy Employees

(Image of duck family by pedrosimoes7, CC 2.0)

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Getting The Credit You Deserve

We’re not talking about credit cards here! We’ll discuss a somewhat common problem – what to do when you’re doing most of the work, but getting very little credit.      

Vicki e-mailed us with a bigg challenge – she recently worked on a major project at work. It was a bigg success – okay, she didn’t say that, but we couldn’t resist! Management is thrilled. Her problem – her supervisor is taking all the credit. Vicki wants to know what to do to get the recognition she deserves.

Here’s what we recommend to Vicki:
Put it in perspective
Don’t forget the old saying: It’s amazing how much gets accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit. The fact is you know that you worked on this project and that it was very successful. Enjoy it! You helped your company … you contributed.

Ask yourself if you’re inflating your role? Sometimes we give ourselves more credit than we deserve, especially on successful projects. Make sure that’s not the case. However, from reading Vicki’s e-mail, it doesn’t appear that’s the situation here.

We live in a highly competitive world. You’re a hard worker. You’ve been a part of a successful campaign. Strive to get the credit you deserve. That helps your standing in your company. It 129 makes your job more secure.]

If you don’t promote yourself, no one else will.
We’re not talking about walking around telling everyone how great you are. Don’t undermine your boss. Just understand that you need to make sure you’re recognized for your contributions.

Document, document, document.
As you’re working on projects in the future, keep written notes as things progress. Give credit where credit is due for ideas, participation, and implementation. Follow up – after meetings, face-to-face conversations, and phone calls – with a written record of “your understanding” of the conversation. Get agreement on the facts from your supervisor and/or co-workers.

For the project you just completed, consider writing out your role in the project. Ask your supervisor to review it. Tell him that you recorded the details while they were fresh in your mind. You’re going to put it in your file for your next review.

Don’t just write down what you did – include what you learned. Your company provides you with opportunities for growth. Pat your company on the back for that!

One more thought on documentation – don’t forget to add this project to your resume!

Address the situation at the proper time in the proper way.
The proper time is AFTER you have documentation on your role in a project. Then, if your manager fails to give you the credit you deserve, you’re ready to address it in the proper way.

That means having a conversation, not a confrontation. You won’t accomplish anything by attacking him. Report on the situation with as little emotion as you can possibly muster. Keep this two-point outline in mind –

(1) This is what happened      (2) Here’s how it makes me feel.

You may start with a discussion of the project, what you’re most proud of, and what you learned for next time. Then, you might say something like:

“In our meeting yesterday, when this project was discussed, I don’t feel I was given the credit I deserve. It makes me feel unappreciated.”

You’re not putting your boss on the defensive by saying that. You’re simply, and properly, trying to resolve an issue.

Good luck, Vicki! Thanks for sharing your bigg challenge with us.

What’s your biggest challenge right now? E-mail it to us at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com

Do you have a suggestion for Vicki? Share it with us in the Comments below.

Our Bigg Quote today is more of a riddle …

Why is Christmas just like a day at the office? 
Because you do all the work and the fat guy with the suit gets all the credit!

You may be an elf now, but if you remember to elf-promote, you’ll be elf-satisfied!

Come back tomorrow to find out if your knowledge is a blessing or a curse. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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