Agile Leadership: How to Balance Recognition and Criticism
The coronavirus pandemic has turned the world upside down, forcing most companies and businesses to react to abruptly changing conditions instead of planning ahead proactively. This change epitomizes why agile leadership is so important. In times of uncertainty and chaos, business agility provides the adaptability to pivot in every situation and quickly change course to restore stability and structure—a way to manage change effectively and respond productively.
Agile business leaders and executives have a responsibility to balance the delivery of constructive criticism with encouragement for their employees. Managers must be mindful that skewing significantly to either side of this equation will likely leave employees confused and uncertain by their leader’s overly negative or positive focus, and unable to improve their work performance in meaningful ways.
From promoting from within and providing constructive feedback to acknowledging team and individual efforts, here are some ways agile leaders can recognize and praise employees while also delivering the necessary critique required to keep their team on track and improving.
What is Agile Leadership?
Agile leadership is all about cultivating a high-performance team that understands the benefits of fluid and responsive methodology, and then applies these principles to a company’s structures, processes, and people-development activities in order to increase competitiveness.
Agile leaders must create a carefully balanced and fair system that supports business operations efficiently. This means providing constructive criticism and feedback together with recognition for employees, while also offering necessary guidance for performance improvement.
Encourage Your Employees
According to Balance Careers, agile leaders who use encouraging words in order to inspire employees and show support can boost morale, improve workflows, and develop strong leaders from within an organization.
Agile leaders understand that management is not “one-size-fits-all” and it needs to adapt to varying situations. This is why agile transformation is a valuable tool for responding in unique circumstances in the most productive and befitting way.
Being an agile and truly transparent leader requires creating a culture in which your employees can easily acknowledge when they have overcommitted or underperformed. Remember that agility is characterized by rapid iteration and innovation. When you encourage this level of authentic creativity and innovation, your teams will solve problems together and get more done.
Be Firm, Transparent and Fair
As an agile leader, it is important to consistently strive to be transparent, firm, and fair. What does this mean? It means that your team always knows where you stand and can rely on you to give honest and unbiased feedback that includes what went right and where they may continue to “level up.”
Honor Employee Achievements
Experts stress the importance of having an adequate employee recognition program with an employee service award component at minimum. From international recognition programs to individual incentive programs, it’s important to recognize employee achievements to boost morale, increase confidence, and improve self-worth. This results in greater productivity and achievement of company goals.
Prioritize a Development Lens
Agile leaders should approach both positive feedback and critique through a unique development lens. Rather than focusing on the person themself, performance reviews should address the body of work or project that is the subject of the feedback.
Both praise and criticism are essential for successful agile leadership to achieve remarkable performance and realize both individual and team potential. However, it’s important to remember that defining or prescribing exact phrasing for a constructive criticism ratio is not practical nor effective. This is because all people are individuals and respond to feedback in different ways.