By Goretti Kimani
Criticism refers to judging the behavior, actions or inclinations of someone or something in an intelligible manner. It is a common human practice. It has been long established that any activity worth doing will attract criticism.
So, since it’s a part of life, criticism should be viewed in a positive light as a trigger for change and improvement.
In a work environment, employees should offer constructive, well thought out, and intelligent criticism of their bosses and the management.
Progressive organisations consider this as a major source of talent and ideas for the greater good of the organisation. Many organisations have established fora for constructive criticism and take serious consideration to such feedback.
From the employee’s perspective, however, criticism should be handled with due care. Irrational and hard-hitting criticism, especially when directed at your boss, can have serious consequences.
The intention should be to provide feedback and cause the desired change with as little friction as possible, thereby driving the organisation forward. Criticism is not meant to show that the boss is bad, or prove that you are better. It should also never be used to settle old scores or hit below the belt for selfish ends.
Remember, you were hired to help in the achievement of the organisational corporate goals. You took up the job because you wanted to prove your worth to the organisation, the market and yourself. Hence, whatever criticism you offer should ensure that these objectives are met to avoid counter-productivity.
Before leveling any criticism you should always ask several questions to determine whether it is worth taking the risk or not. Is it likely to hurt your boss? Are you objective in your proposed approach? How is the current relationship with your boss?
Are you sober enough to handle the discussion, as well as the outcome? Are you driven by fear or purpose? What does your career counselor think about it? Is the boss in question new or a veteran in the organisation? Could you be the one having problems with adapting to change? Is the criticism honest, or are you just being negative? How significant is the subject of criticism?
All criticism should be presented as proposals, adjustments or improvements. Avoid criticising in public such as in meetings. Rather talk to your boss in private and let him or her buy into your proposals.
Use words like ‘we’ as opposed to ‘I’, ‘and’ as opposed to ‘but’ in your discussions. Avoid discussing criticism in the grapevine as this will inevitably reach your boss with undesirable consequences.
Steer clear of group-orchestrated emotion-driven criticism but concentrate only on issue-based, purpose-driven criticism. Be mature, sober and long sighted, focusing on the end-goal and not just taking pride in the moment.