I love it when my associate Sonia tells me in her direct, to-the-point way that she really doesn't like a course segment I put together. It's sometimes uncomfortable to hear, but I find criticism invaluable -- and worth acknowledging.
When I ask Sonia what she doesn't like about what I have put together for a program, for example, her reasons are solid, helpful and almost always merit making a change.
Who needs a "yes" person, when a person who tells you the truth, even if it is uncomfortable to hear, can really make a difference to the achieved results?
Ginger Levin, PhD, PMP, PgMP, drove this home in a note that she sent me a few weeks ago:
"Recently, I gave a program management boot camp. As it seems too often be the case, people in the class found some items that they felt needed change. I thought this was wonderful and I was so pleased that they had pointed them out to me. One person pointed out the majority of the changes, and I decided to send him a small present as a token of my appreciation. I also thanked each person who did so. One person in the class remarked that such thanks had not been given in previous courses she had attended. I welcomed the comments, as they can only help me improve next time."
Can you imagine being given a gift for the criticism you deliver to a colleague? I believe this is a rather rare response to such feedback -- too rare.
Wouldn't project excellence be much more commonplace and achievable if we all responded similarly? And it takes a master like Dr. Levin to truly value this kind of input to keep herself in a mode of continuous improvement.
So let's acknowledge those who tell us the truth -- and make us and what we do better! Their integrity, their commitment to excellence and their unwillingness to shortchange the end result by accepting the mediocre are their gifts to us!