"Criticism ... makes very little dent upon me, unless I think there is some real justification and something should be done."
--- Eleanor Roosevelt
Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, once said, "I've learned that mistakes can often be as good a teacher as success." Mr. Welch encouraged his employees to venture out and make mistakes. Of course, he wasn't promoting failure, but freedom. He wanted employees to dream, invent, and create.
If we believe that making mistakes improves learning, then why is it that our first reaction to an employee's mistake is to criticize him or her? Obviously, we believe that the mistake cost us money, but there is a better way to react.
"While criticism or fear of punishment may restrain us from doing wrong, it does not make us wish to do right."
--- Bruno Bettelheim
The first step to take if someone on your team makes a mistake is to confront the employee in private. Nothing kills motivation in an employee faster than embarrassing them in front of coworkers and customers. Showing respect for the employee by going to a private location allows that person to "save face" and to be more receptive and less defensive to your statements.
"To make a criticism is a bit like complaining about the shape of the Pyramids."
--- Piers Brendon
The second step is to remember to refrain from criticism. Someone may be asking, "How can I correct future mistakes without criticizing the employee?" The answer is that you point out the mistake only, but don't criticize the individual. Criticism only attacks the person, but does nothing to correct the mistake. The key is to keep the two separate.
Instead of saying "How could you allow this to happen? You are such a (fill in the blank)" You might try, "How did this happen?" Do you see the difference? The first approach focuses on the person. The second focuses on the incident, which is what you want corrected anyway.
"Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain...and most fools do."
--- Dale Carnegie
The third step is to find an alternative way to approach employee mistakes. This gets tricky because you have to know the personalities of your team. Knowing what motivates each employee is essential to a successful team. Professional football and baseball coaches realize this simple fact. They study players and know what it takes to get each one to perform to their highest potential.
We don't have the resources that NFL teams have to examine each and every team member, but if they've been with you for even a short period of time, you can determine what it is that keeps them coming back to work. Customize this knowledge to address mistakes with every employee rather than taking the easy way by criticizing.
"Punishing honest mistakes stifles creativity. I want people moving and shaking the earth and they're going to make mistakes."
--- Ross Perot
Finally, if the mistake was made because the employee was stretching outside of his or her job description, praise them for taking the risk. If all of your team members worked inside of their scope and you are the only one trying to take the company to new plateaus, you'll be dragging a heavy ship. It will be like swimming in glue. Your team needs the freedom to make some mistakes in order to help you achieve your business objectives.
Encourage co-workers and employees this week to take some chances. Listen to their ideas. They are in the trenches with their hands and minds working the projects daily. Ask for their input and empower them to act out those ideas that profit everyone.
Starting a New Sign Business
By Johnny Duncan
For those who are considering venturing into a new business in the sign industry, we welcome you to the family. The sign profession is one of the oldest in our country. Signs have been a fundamental element in trade, commerce and industry for centuries.
Read the article...
LED Street-side Pylons: A Totem for Business Communications
By Louis Brill
Combining electronic message centers with street-side pylons or main marquees to create a contemporary look for customer's roadside presences.
Read the article...
Revitalizing Vegas Vic
By Fran Schilson
A graphic arts icon taking to the road...and a few trade shows to boot!
Read the article...
Looking for an article or trying to find an old one? Check out the SignIndustry.com article archive:
View the archive now
New Technology. New Techniques. New Orleans! - Specialty Imaging Comes Together at SGIA ’05
New Orleans, Louisiana --
Sept. 28 - Oct. 1, 2005
The Specialty Printing & Imaging Technology Show
With more than 450 exhibitors and 14,000 attendees, SGIA '05 (www.sgia.org/sgia05) is where you'll find the latest technological innovations in specialty imaging. New technologies, new substrates, new inks and new processes mean exciting ideas and opportunities to save and make money.
Make the innovations work for you. Industry experts lead workshops on how these technologies can transform your specialty imaging business and leave your competition in the dust.
Traditional margins are shrinking. Competition is increasing. Customers are demanding more for less. Decide whether you'll profit or perish. SGIA '05 opens your eyes to the challenges, discoveries, and solutions of today's specialty imaging.
From POP to Ts, signs to decals, wide-format to golf balls -see the future of specialty graphic imaging up close at SGIA '05.