Constructive Criticisms

All organisations periodically review its performance to celebrate the achievements and to analyse the areas of shortcomings that need more attention for improvement. It’s also an occasion when employees get recognition for jobs well-done, but also constructive criticisms with unambiguous instructions to improve in days or months to come.

My organisation was not an exception. As a Zonal Head, I had to attend the ‘P” meeting in the beginning of every month. It used to be herculean task. First I had to reach my Circle Office that used to take 6 to 7 hours by road or train. Secondly, I had to compile all sorts of data and information that were not available online.

In the meeting, there would be not less than 50 participants representing various departments, Zones and allied services. The day of “P” meeting used to be celebrated by junior officers and employees as “P” festival, as all their bosses would remain busy with verbal acrobatics on that day.

All meetings used to start with pleasantries, but would never end on a good note. We used to sit late in the meeting, where criticisms were mostly not constructive. People would be denounced openly. As a result, good performers also got demotivated.

One day during an informal meeting with my boss, the Circle Head, I suggested that criticism part should not be discussed openly in the meeting that demotivated even self-driven officers. He outrightly rejected it.

He said that since this was being practised throughout the organisation, he was not ready to change at his level. Moreover, it was not convenient for him to hold one-to-one meetings separately just for one purpose.

I was not convinced, as that just was not “just”, but I couldn’t pressurise him to change the format of such an important meeting. But I always believe, “Don’t bother much about what is not within your control. Think what is in your hands and just do it.”

I had 5 controllers (Regional Managers) under me. I implemented my format for Zonal “P” meetings. I used to start the meeting with all the controllers and my support staff to discuss the achievements and give certificates etc for recognition.

But finally for criticisms and suggestions, I used to call them one by one, asking the rest to do their own work. But even in these meetings, I never used any offensive language to censure or humiliate them. Later on, I started holding this meeting through video-conferencing without bothering them to visit my headquarters.

Even then, I don’t know why I used to be considered a tough boss, but it made me realise that being humble was not a sign of weakness.

Whatever may be the reason, my Zone yielded better results both in terms of productivity and profitability in subsequent months.


–Kaushal Kishore


images: pixabay

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35 Comments

      1. Constructive criticism is always welcome. It’s beneficial for both employees and organisations, but open denunciation in the name of criticism cannot be termed as constructive. It proves to be counter-productive. An inspirational leader will always be constructive in his criticisms, but an autocratic leader will be rude that lowers the morale of employees.

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    1. Thank you, Sasha, for your wonderful response that resonates with me. A supportive leader is always welcome, and in fact he is more productive than rude ones (dictators).

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    1. That’s a paradox, Joanna! But I got feedback from outside that I’was tough. Maybe due to a few tough decisions I had to take. Anyway, thank you, Joanna, for your kind words and support, as always. Much appreciated!

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  1. Exposing people in front of their colleagues is never a good strategy. To me that sounds very American, and they use a lot of fear and humiliation tactics in the treatment of their personnel. It wouldn’t work in Europe. It is anti-motivating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I fully agree with you, Stella, that such intimidating behaviour results into demoralisation of subordinates. Participative style of management always yields positive results.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Being humble is definitely NOT a sign of weakness, and using offensive language or insulting people in public makes no one a respected person.

    One can get a job done, by treating their employees with respect, and when there is a mistake to be corrected, it can also be handled just like you did.

    But sadly, it’s quite common at workplaces, bosses/seniors often take their frustration out by using foul words and insulting attitudes with their employees.

    You are setting a good example. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said, Aish, seniors do take their frustration out by transferring it to juniors. When I went to Corporate Office, I found the same treatment being meted out to my boss by his seniors. So actually it’s TOP-DOWN approach. The need is to bring out changes in the attitude of the top.
      Thank you for your beautiful reflections and appreciation!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was an important part for sure. It really is but you were instrumental in the whole of the group which is vital. My daughter has found drawing a line in the sand gives the respect and results she and they deserve.
        ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

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