Saturday, February 25, 2012

How criticism can save your job

In a world where everything will offend at least one person at some point, it is sometimes good to remember that being offended or offensive all the time isn't the way to go if you want everything to run properly (not necessarily smoothly, mind you, because criticism often ruffles feathers in a very unpleasant way) .

Criticism is necessary. It's essential. If you're so delusional that every single bit of criticism you receive makes you angry or sad, then maybe there is something wrong with you. Of course, not every piece of criticism is the same and sometimes of course your sadness/anger/disappointment is valid. But sometimes ? Not so much.

Let's take the obvious example of work. No matter your work ethic and general life principles, you're generally paid to do what your employer wants you to do, not what you think should be done. You may have the best intentions in mind, and you may even get frustrated after a while... but you can only become a top performer if you manage to absorb the fact that you can't change things. Then it's up to you to decide whether you can handle it morally or not.

I kinda always knew this but got it clearly and even better than usual yesterday. I work in a setting where being a top performer means top bonuses, and while I personally don't care about bonuses (I only care about doing a good job, you know - not that I don't care about money otherwise I wouldn't even get paid, but you get the point) , well, I have to think about my "stats" to avoid bringing the team's score down. Top performer here essentially means do your job well AND fast. I get the "do your job well" part done easily, but fast ? Heh, it's another thing.

I got training on this in December before the new product launch. I got better. Then there was the new product and I collapsed because I wasn't so sure of what everything was supposed to be anymore. Then my boss left, and I got a new one, and the performance thing started again.

More training with the same person, then with someone else, then with another person, then new people came in and some listened in with me (I love having new people sit with me, I can share about the work a bit) , then I got a future manager with me, and then I got training again. But this time it was different.

Because this person is more a friend than others (I love them all, but for some reason, this woman is all kinds of awesome and I really like her) she did what I LOVE hearing from people : she wasn't scared of telling me the truth. She was "funny" (kept poking me all day and wouldn't you know it, this happens to be a good technique to keep me awake AND reduce average call time :P ) , but she was honest.

Then my boss said that it seems I rock at average call time reducing when I am with a trainer, but I slip back to my old habits when I'm alone. (Let's note that anything I get told is always done in a respectful manner, at least according to me) I acknowledged it and deep down inside I knew this was true, I just didn't know why it was that way.

A few "Ask a manager" links about taking criticism before I continue my rambling : , linking to :

I knew I had to progress. I was trying my best, and I was going the "slowly but safely" route by gradually eliminating "cross contamination" and getting rid of bad habits. Yesterday's training opened my eyes as to what the truth probably is : there are things I don't understand the way I should, as in I perceive something to mean one thing when it probably means another, and this has a consequence on my performance.

And you know what ? It's a good thing I tend to take criticism smoothly and pretty darn well, especially in such an environment, otherwise I am pretty sure I wouldn't be working there anymore. While I am a little miffed that my efforts weren't enough, I am glad to know how they weren't, and I have more tools than ever to progress now.

My boss said he counts on me to keep on getting better like I did yesterday.

I WILL do my best. The bonus isn't my incentive, personal satisfaction is. That, and if I can get compliments on being kick-ass at customer relation, I just want to be amongst the best.

Haha, I have such a love/hate relationship with this job it's eerie. I think I love it more than anything else, even if I'd be out there doing something else if I could. But I guess being able to "help" others in some way just makes me smile.

TL;DR : If your boss says you'd better get your act together, don't go sulk in a corner. He may be right :P .

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