Correction is necessary – but I don’t enjoy giving it or receiving it. And I am certainly still learning how to both hear it and give it better! In order to grow as a Christ-follower, leader, communicator, friend, husband, and father I must absorb and digest correction. I also have to give it in those same roles. The traits that make correction helpful, constructive, and empowering to hear, are the same elements I need to make sure I include whenever I correct others…
- Be direct and clear. Correction needs to be spoken (don’t just write an email or memo), eye to eye, and clear. I want to hear, and need to say, clearly and concisely what needs to be corrected and how to do that. Trying to talk around the point "to save their feelings" gets confusing, hurts feelings, and just isn’t fair.
- Don’t be personal. Correction isn’t personal (sometimes that is hard to remember!). Emotions are always involved, especially if people are passionately engaged in a worthwhile mission. Those emotions must be controlled and channeled to the desired outcome, however. Don’t correct a person, correct an action!
- What, Why, & How. Correction involves three things: What happened and what should have happened; Why what happened wasn’t acceptable; and How am I supposed to do it in the future. Of course, this requires some thinking time before you correct… even if its just a few seconds, stop and think through the W,W,&H. If you skip one of those three points in the correction triangle, you missed it, and the experience will be frustrating to everyone involved.
- Affirmation. The person being corrected should always leave the encounter with something (warning – really bad metaphor ahead) to hang their hat of hope on. "I know you are going to do this great next time" or "You really heard this well, that’s what I love about you…" They need to hear something good, or they won’t hear anything you said. The wisest counsel, when received with a defensive spirit, is ignored. (I once had a member of a leadership team tell me something he thought I should do, and then concluded by saying – This way you won’t be a $!*@. Needless to say, all his previous words were lost on me).
Again,I don’t always do this as well as I would like (either hear or give). But I’m working on it, and I have some great leaders around me who correct me when I need it!