Judging – It Won’t Make You or Them Better

I’ve been taking in as much of the Sochi Olympics as my schedule will allow, it’s a labour of love to watch the Athletes and Russia host the World.  Admittedly I watch it with a critical eye, seeing what they have done to raise the bar or be creative, or not.  It’s easy to judge people by comparing them based on your own experience.  I’m not convinced it’s right, but it’s definitely easy.  I can tell you from personal experience staging an Olympics is not easy.  There are so many variables and so many constraints and moving parts that is a constant challenge to keep your own piece of that big puzzle on time and on budget.  It’s not impossible, but it sure feels like it sometimes.   So maybe my critical eye isn’t judging as much as I am taking stock of what may have worked for them and what may have worked against them, so it’s school.  And the object of school is to leave better than you came.  So like anything I believe it’s our job to pay attention and to learn so when we get the shot at whatever it is we are judging we remember and employ the lessons to be better. 
It’s not different in our day to day life or in our management or leadership of people.  Think about how often you judge people ‘I wouldn’t do that’ or ‘I would never…’  or ‘they don’t have a clue’ or …
Judging will erode your team foundation.  It chips away at what you believe you have as solid ground in your team or your company or your family.  What it really comes down to is that you are estimating their worth.  And I wonder, are you qualified? 
Think about when people judge you, it affects the voice inside your head.  And if it’s a constant cascade you start believing you are what they say you are.  So what you say to each other and to yourself matters, it matters a great deal.  
I think judging is a fallback position that we engage when we are jealous, or righteous, threatened or just hurt.  Don’t get me wrong there is a place for a form of judgement, some call it constructive criticism.  There is a way to frame feedback that will help, not hurt or hinder.  But in order to offer a service focused feedback you have to be secure in who you are and what you know.  Here is an optional approach to feedback; Be Timely, Make it Regular, Prepare Your Comments, Be Specific, Criticize in Private, Limit Your Focus, Talk About Positives Too, Provide Specific Suggestions and Follow Up.
If you are feeling any of these things; jealous, righteous, threatened or hurt take a break and refocus.  You won’t do anyone any good, including you, and you will be the rain that initiates the erosion. 

If you are going to lead any team effectively it’s your job to be balanced and sure.  And in the times when you are not, and there will be times, and you launch the judging storm; recognize it, own it, apologize for it, learn from it and use it be better.
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