Monday, July 9, 2007

Pointy Haired Bosses Beware! A Few Tips on Constructive Criticism

So this weekend, after busting my butt drafting something for work over the last week, and after not having a day off (including weekends) since June 24th, my boss, in giving me comments on my draft, told me that I should write more like my co-worker.

Needless to say this bit of "constructive criticism" from my pointy-haired boss, really demoralized me, and caused me to work less hard and really become pissed off and depressed about my job.

Here's what he did wrong:
  1. CC'ed people unnecessarily- If you are going to criticize one person by comparing them to another person, you should not cc other people, including the person whose writing I supposedly should try to emulate, and another co-worker. Being criticized in front of an audience was humiliating.
  2. Not Value the Work I had done- I drafted almost the entire paper, I worked my butt off while PHB was on vacation, including working till 10:30 on Friday night and another 10 hours on Saturday.
  3. Gave Generic Praise- Couching criticism by first saying something positive is a good strategy, but it can be obvious if you are going to say something phoney. This almost made things worse.
  4. Not Leading By Example- He did almost nothing on this project, other than spend 2 hours looking it over, after I had spent 50 hours researching and drafting it while he was on vacation.
  5. Criticizing By Email- Email is a whole lot less personal and email is really easy to misinterpret, especially with regards to tone. When you criticize someone, you need to be especially careful your tone isn't misinterpreted. Avoid email.

This whole incident has definitely caused me to give serious thought to moving up my timetable on when to quit my job.

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