CEOs Delivering Criticism — Constructively

Big Red Car here. Bit muggy here in the ATX. Wild night last night with police killing two individuals and one victim apparently murdered by one of the individuals killed by the police. Say a prayer for Austin. Situation still a little murky.

So the Big Red Car is listening — eavesdropping — on one of The Boss’s bright young CEOs delivering a bit of a tongue lashing to one of his team.

And how did that go, Big Red Car?

Not well, y’all. Not well.

The ability to deliver criticism is an essential element of CEO behavior and success. It is said that the mark of a professional is the ability to tell someone to go to Hell and then have them ask for directions.

Let’s talk an example.

“Does this dress make my ass look fat?” asks your wife.

Answer no. 1: “You bet, as big as the Capitol.”

or, alternatively,

Answer no. 2: “Sweetheart, that dress is not the most flattering design for you. Can’t quite put my finger on why. Other designs are more flattering.”

There is no necessity to even discuss the implications as to the comparative reception of the two different answers. Answer no. 1 has you taking up residence in the guest room and exploring the life of a eunuch. While Answer no. 2 — will not dampen the likelihood of your enjoying the pleasures of life and marriage.

Who knew that words could be that powerful?

We see this challenge in politics, in personal relationships and in business. As a CEO, you should heed the advice of every journeyman carpenter — measure twice, cut once. Weigh and measure your words carefully.

This is not a call for less constructive criticism. This is a call to make your constructive criticism focus on the problem — the results, the outcome — and not to allow the discussion to become personal and, most importantly, not to allow it to become about your words, your criticism.

[Pro tip: the word “sucks” should never find its way into a conversation about performance.]

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Be kind to yourself. We are a free people.


2 thoughts on “CEOs Delivering Criticism — Constructively

  1. I would like to know when the BRC decides that the driver is bad enough and needs to be told never to drive the BRC again versus when to be just reprimanded for bad driving. Do we wait for the driver to continue driving badly for a bit more (and potentially spoil the BRC a BIT more) or we wait/ hope a bit for him to change his driving style

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