Solution Saturday: Your Pie Needs More Sugar
This email, from a Leadership Freak reader, arrived yesterday.
… I recently (this week) came up on a situation with a would-be employer and immediately thought of you. Turning to my trusted network: would you be open to having a quick conversation about it? …
Fred (Not his real name.)
We chatted for about 30 minutes.
Fred explained that he was nearing decision-time, after a lengthy interview process, when one senior interviewer offered a slight criticism.
I felt Fred’s frustration. Everyone loved Fred. Frankly, when we do a great job, a thank you seems sufficient.
Fred wondered if there was a power-play at work. “Perhaps he’s putting me in my place.”
I asked, “If his critic’s intentions were positive, what might they be?”
Fred replied that his critic might be testing him to see how he responds to criticism. Perhaps he wonders if I can adapt to their culture?
Our conversation turned to apple pies.
Suppose you’ve been making apple pies – that your friends and family love – for years. Imagine a stranger, who takes a bite, and, offhandedly suggests, “It needs more sugar.”
Possible responses to the more-sugar-suggestion:
- You should enjoy the pie and keep your mouth shut, except to say, Thank you. (A personal favorite.)
- Everyone loves my apple pies!
- How many apple pies have you made?
- The sugar bowl is in the cupboard. Help yourself!
- Some jerks are actually trying to be helpful, they just suck at it.
- The criticism has a grain of truth in it.
- Maybe your critic is a jerk.
- Thank you for your observation. … Gratitude.
- What makes you say that? … Cause.
- How might I address this issue? … Solution.
- Wow! I hadn’t thought of it that way. … Exploration.
How might leaders respond to criticism in areas where they feel they excel?
What’s important about offering criticisms?
**This post reflects our conversation. It is not verbatim.
Excellent reminders. THANKS
Another great post Dan! Thank you for the words – frankly I think you’ve added the right amount of sugar to them.
Thanks Scott. Happy 4th!
It’s a much bigger challenge with apple cider! 🙂 Thanks for the suggestions.
Thanks Wayne! Oh Cider is easy. Anyone can do it. 😉
Sometimes they might be right: try your apple pie with more sugar – you might like even more than you did!
Thanks Mitch. It’s hard to stay open to the idea that there’s room for improvement when you ‘ve doing well for a long time. 🙂
Ahhh…the concept of Continuous Improvement versus knowing when Done is enough….
How about a fifth option that’s really a combination of others? “Let’s explore this further.”
Having suggested that, it’s for when a reply is appropriate. If I’m a dessert chef, I would want to explore in keeping with my seeking always to get better. If I am a home baker, maybe the same, maybe just let pass.
If I’m a leader indeed, I believe it’s absolutely something that needs to be addressed – especially if it’s already been discussed together. My terminology: If it wasn’t explored before beginning, the leader just became a manager – maybe a poor one!
Thanks John. Thanks for the addition.
One thing that I didn’t include here is being open to feedback but not over-eager. If we are too eager, it seems like weakness or neediness. Open seems like confidence.
Maybe that’s the issue of being too eager. We seem to lack confidence.
I realize my reply is off topic for your comment. You got me thinking about these ideas. thanks
Dan, to your reader and to yourself, what an interesting scenario…one that can be a test on the part of the prospective employer to see how a candidate handles critique, and for the prospective staff member to contemplate whether this manager or company knows the difference between “criticism” (which is always destructive) and “critique”–which when used properly is “joyfully constructive.”
Before your 4 excellent responses, Dan, I would immediately ACCEPT the “critique”
irrespective of right or wrong, or how I feel: ”You’re right!” And then say “THANK YOU,” and how grateful I am, ask for a solution, with a follow-up of how I had never thought of any of what the person is telling me…and it all would be sincerely true.
My aim would be two-fold with respect to the interview: One is to demonstrate to the interviewer how I handle PEOPLE issues. My second and perhaps more important objective is to see how the interviewer responds: I’d like to know what kind of management I might be working for…or not.
And if this was an in-vivo management scenario, I’d do the very same thing: ACCEPT the critique. Every opportunity a leader gets for a staff member to talk is a time to train, raise, pull, push, and in fact, learn to unify and think together. It’s an opportunity to build trust, willingness, cooperation, strength and nurturance. We create synergy—where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts…when one plus one equals 4X the power. Or, like the very old physics Inverse Square Law says: Individually we are a drop, but together we are an ocean.
Like many of your posts Dan…..this has got me thinking. I don’t remember taking criticism personally as a child so how do we become so sensitive to it as adults. What is wrong with criticism if the intention is honest…..even if its about sugar. It’s another perspective. I would rather have the comment to accrpt or discard rather than the unspoken opinion that is lost in silence. There are so many different scenarios and I guess sometimes not giving feedback is the right thing but conversely sometimes being critical takes bravery.
I just love criticism. It’s either a reflection of me or the person. Eat the pie and thank you.
Great post. Thank you! The apple pie example is excellent. I think normally those people show they’re listening/eating the pie in order to give solution/judge, not actually listen to us/enjoy the pie.