It’s not easy finding out from an employee that he and other staff feel that you take the wind out of the sails when you walk onto a jobsite or into the office, but that’s what Marty Schirber had to face.

Schirber admits that the comment was one he’d heard before in other forms. He decided to label it his “A” flaw (leaving alphabetical room for subsequent flaws) and to address it at the next company meeting. “I don’t think you look at your behavior seriously until you talk about it and give it a name,” he says.

37% of workers reported that their supervisor failed to give credit when due

As the president of Castle Home Services, in Minneapolis, Schirber believed his job was to point out things on site and in the office that needed attention or to make corrections to set the level of quality he expected. But some staff thought his delivery was unkind.

Before Schirber admitted his flaw, he says, “staff lacked a way to say, ‘I feel you’re being dismissive or disrespectful of me and my work.’” Admitting the flaw raised his level of consciousness: “It made me think about what I was going to say before I said it.”

Now, when offering a critique of something, Schirber first considers how he will address his staff. Also, instead of simply telling employees what to do, he encourages them to take more responsibility and initiative. He says that defining his flaw opened the lines of communication and created a culture where he can talk openly to staff about their own flaws or issues — and staff are more receptive to working on their flaws based on Schirber’s example.

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.