What Am I Doing Wrong? By Ron White

A few years ago, I called a special meeting. I went to my staff, and I told them that the next day at 1:00 we were going to have a special meeting. The topic of the meeting was going to be all the areas that I, as their boss, could improve upon. One of my employees stood up and said, “OK, right now?”

I replied, “No, we will do this tomorrow at 1:00.” She said very matter of fact, “Oh… I am ready now.” I smiled and told her that I wanted her to at least pretend that it would take her 24 hours to think of how I could improve!

The next day at 1:00 I found out that this employee had gone home and spent one hour composing a list. I think it was the first time she’d ever put in any effort after 5 p.m.! She had 23 areas that I needed to improve upon! The others at the meeting had suggestions as well, but not to that extent.

Before the meeting, I informed everyone that their job was secure, whatever their suggestions were. I wanted them to be brutally honest so that I could get better and the company could improve. They were indeed honest, and because they trusted me, did not fear for their job with their statements. Of the suggestions, 75 percent were good and accurate and 25 percent were totally off base and wrong. With that said, not once in the meeting did I defend myself. With every suggestion, right or wrong, I thanked them and wrote it down in my notebook. Never once did I defend or explain myself.

It was a very productive meeting for everyone involved. My employees felt valued because I came to them for advice, and the company improved because we changed some procedures. It is hard to accept constructive criticism. However, if you desire to be successful, it is a quality you must embody.

Ask for constructive criticism from those around you. They will feel valued that you asked, and most likely you will become a better friend, manager or spouse because of it. Don’t defend yourself, just get better.
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Ron White has spent almost 2 decades training business professionals and students on how to improve their memory, grades and income. He is the 2009 US Memory Champion and has broken a national record by memorizing a 167-digit number in 5 minutes. Take a moment to learn about Ron’s all-time, best seller, Memory in a Month program.

  • Constructive criticism should be taken into heart not as an insult but a chance to improve. I like your idea of asking your employees about their your performance. It is not often that a boss asks that.

    Thanks for sharing this Ron. Wonderful idea.