Criticism in Business
Originally Published Aug 30, 2020
Criticism in business, in one way or another, will affect every business owner and entrepreneur. Possibly, facing criticism and learning how to deal with it is one of the hardest things to navigate, especially if you are just starting out.
Criticism can come at you from various angles: from someone within your industry, online, and even within your company itself.
Dealing with criticisms in a constructive manner, regardless of its source, can set you apart from your competitors and skyrocket your business’ growth.
How do you deal with Criticism?
The way you deal with criticism often depends on your mindset around what is means to be criticised. Let’s take a deep dive into assessing what it means to be criticism and ways to change something negative into something that could positively impact the way you lead your business and your teams.
Some questions you may ask yourself include; can I take constructive feedback? Do I know when unsolicited advice should be ignored? How will I respond when someone you trust disagrees with your approach?
These are all important questions to ask yourself as a business owner.
Criticism in Your Industry
Every industry has a culture or “way of doing things” and sometimes when business owners go against the status quo, they can face criticism from thought leaders or competitors in their industry.
The important thing when dealing with criticism from thought leaders and competitors is asking yourself why you are being criticised. Once you figure out the why, you’ll be able to assess the situation from an advantage point.
You could start by asking yourself these questions;
Is the criticism you are experiencing coming from sources of authority, or is the criticism coming from sources trying to hold you and your company back? Are you being criticised due to malpractice within your organisation, or because you are innovating and jumping ahead of the pack?
Online criticism, especially on a personal level, seems to be more and more intense with each passing year. The truth is, people can criticise almost anything from behind a computer screen when they don’t have to back up their claims.
For the most part, online criticism should be taken the least seriously, especially if you’re dealing with a handful of comments that barely make a blip on the radar.
What is an ‘Internet troll’?
In Internet terms, a ‘troll’ is a person who intentionally posts or comments on online content with the aim of intentionally upsetting people. These off-topic messages can often inflame your customers, starting flights and misappropriating your messages.
If you are seeing an influx of negative and defamatory comments, it is important to understand that these comments are designed to provoke responses.
But what happens when online criticism gets too much?
The distinction between you (the business owner) and your customers is often blurred on the Internet, in particular across social media platforms. This creates an environment perfect for criticism targeted not only at your brand, but possibly at you, the business owner.
If you are in a position where you are experience more negative comments than positive across your online platforms, it may be time to call in the professionals.
Social Media Managers, Brand Managers and Public Relations teams have specialists that deal with negative comments and trolls across every and all online platforms. They can help take away the burden and emotional impact of having to delete comment after comment. Plus, they can give advice on the next course of action for your company.
Your mental health is incredibly important. If you are in a position where you feel like you need additional support, please reach out to Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Another form of criticism you might experience is from your own staff. Most often, internal criticism should be taken the most seriously. After all, your staff sees your business from the inside and any good entrepreneur knows that happy employees lead to happy customers.
How To Collect Internal Feedback
Let’s face it, it is unlikely that you, the business owner, will be privy to every criticism your staff have. That’s why it is critical that you adopt regular and scheduled feedback channels, from both your staff and your customers.
Set up feedback meetings regularly
Monthly catch ups with your staff is one of the best methods to improve employee engagement, create open and honest feedback loops and promote internal leadership.
Organise monthly meetings with your staff to discuss their performance and any feedback they have for you, both as their boss and the owner of a company. Is there anything that could be done better to make their role easier? Is there anything your staff would like to pursue to further their education and skills?
How to implement Net Promoter Scores (NPS)
A Net Promoter Score is a management tool that is often used to gauge satisfaction levels.
The beauty of this tool is that is can be easily implemented and gives you a quantitative assessment of satisfaction. Plus! This tool can be used for both your staff, as well as your customers.
At Physio Inq, we utilise NPS to assess customer satisfaction levels at our Physiotherapy clinics to ensure each and every customer is treated at a high level.
Of course, you can’t trust every critique and a staff complaint doesn’t mean you should change an entire system. All we’re saying is that when you hear enough internal criticism, it’s probably smart to at least listen.
How do you deal with Criticism?
Whether you’re facing criticism within your industry, from your staff, or online, dealing with it is a totally different story. Here’s how:
Start with gratitude
When you come from a place of gratitude, you’re far more likely to meet the criticism openly and with a willingness to learn. Without gratitude, you’re likely to become defensive and prideful - not a good recipe for growth and success.
This is great way to distinguish between well-intentioned constructive criticism and empty complaints with no vision for the future.
Ask questions like, what do you propose we do instead? Or, how would you solve this problem?
If the critic has a thoughtful answer or if they can, at least, tell you why they’re critiquing, you’ll know you can trust what they have to say. It doesn’t mean you necessarily agree, but it’s a starting point.
If the critic has no answer to any of your questions, you may choose to conduct further research into the complaint. Talk to other staff members to see if they are feeling the same way. Asking questions is a way to weed out actual feedback from empty complaints.
At the end of the day, not everyone will like every choice you make as a business owner, but that doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision.
Separate yourself from your work
We get it. It can be incredibly difficult to handle criticism. As a business owner, we put so much of ourselves into our work that getting feedback sometimes feels like a personal blow.
To combat this, do your best to separate yourself from your work.
This doesn’t mean that you should act like a robot, phone it in, or remove passion from what you do in your business. On the contrary, commit to treating your business like a project that you really want to succeed versus something that’s literally a part of you.
When we treat our business as an extension of ourselves, we can take our mistakes to heart. But, when we treat our business as a separate entity that we want to get right, it’s easier to take on constructive criticism.
If you do feel like you need a helping hand, you can seek advice or outsource the task to a specialist company. Of course, there will be pros and cons for every method of collecting feedback, so do what’s best for the business and for your staff.
Be open to criticism
Last but not least, simply be open to receiving feedback. Survey your customers. Talk openly to your staff. Welcome feedback from your colleagues and competitors.
When you’re open to feedback, it’s a signal to people that you’re willing to learn, grow, and make your business the best it can be. It’s no longer about you and your ego. It’s about building something that’s strong and can handle a few pokes and prods.
Using these techniques to better handle criticism will make or break your business. Even if you’re not facing many “naysayers”, it’s still a good mindset to carry.
The information provided on this blog is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.