My Cringe-Worthy Management Mistake

To be honest…

I’m not always the best manager.

Leading a team is still new to me.

And as a result, I recently found myself falling for a grave mistake that I vowed to avoid:

Giving HARSH criticism.

You see, I’m a strong believer in learning from feedback. If a team member is messing up, it’s my job to show them what they’re doing wrong and help them do it right.

And that’s all well and good…

As long as I’m giving guidance the right way.

…Which is where I’ve been mucking up lately.

Case in point:

A couple of times over the past weeks, I’ve lost my patience, snapped on an employee, and gave feedback in a way that didn’t lead to improvement and understanding. But instead, it caused anger and resentment (a recipe for low productivity and high turnover).

In fact, after one such instance, an employee DM’d me saying that my public lashing of another teammate made him “cringe.”

(Which I thanked him for saying and found to be enlightening feedback for myself.)

So what’s the alternative?

It’s an approach I’ve been reminded of recently while binging Ted Lasso on Apple TV (watch it if you’ve got it):

Positive reinforcement.

In other words…

When showing someone what they’re doing wrong, you should also compliment them on what they’re doing right and explain how correcting their error will simply make their work even better.

For example, instead of saying:

“Matt, your leadership needs to improve. When you lose your patience, it undermines your authority and damages the entire team’s morale.”

…You should say:

“Matt, I’m really impressed how you’ve managed the team so far with less than 2 years of experience. But I bet if you toned down your critiques and had a little more patience, it would take your leadership to the next level.”

Granted, this rule is easier spoken than unbroken.

But the lesson is everlasting:

When you give feedback with kindness, folks are more likely to correct their mistakes, which makes your job as a manager a whole lot easier.

And that’s what matters most to moi.

Your pen pal,

Matt Rizvi