Defending your team in the face of criticism

It is impossible to escape remarks and criticism, from internal and external sources... but how to react when they target one of your co-workers or the whole team? How do you offer support, accompanied by fairness and discernment?
Hear the criticism
A criticism directed at the team is also directed at its manager: so resist the reflex to reject it, so as to hear and to understand it. It matters little, initially, whether it is justified or not; what is important is to identify our interlocutor's interests: what does he fear? What does he wish to protect, or to obtain? What does he expect from us? A criticism is always an opportunity to be grasped!       
Affirm your share of the responsibility
If my team is seen in a bad light, the greatest responsibility falls on me. Defending them consists then in expressing clearly my position, my choices, and even the risks I have chosen to take. My interlocutors will be reassured if they have the feeling that I know what I am doing and that I am in control of the situation.       
Communicate on the "And now"
If criticism does indeed reveal a problem, then there will be action to take with the co-worker or the team: issuing an alert, looking for solutions, reframing, coaching, etc. The manager does not need to explain everything he is doing or planning to do to move forward but he does need to show that he is working on resolving the problem. He may also propose regular reviews, or even involve his interlocutor in the process of improvement.       
Each question has only one correct response, but be careful: among the possible responses there is one that is "almost correct" and might make the choice harder!
1 / 3   "I want to change my interlocutor"
One of your main clients tells you "your collaborator Alexandra isn’t reactive enough, I want someone else". Yet, Alexandra is a solid professional. How do you reply?
It’s the first time I've heard anything like this about Alexandra, there must be a misunderstanding.
Your client won't appreciate this! First, it would be best to listen to his problem.
It’s true, I’m aware that Alexandra has left it late to reply to you and she should have informed you about this delay.
Yes, first listen to the client’s frustration, and then show that you are aware of the problem. You can then soften his opinion by underlining you are also partly responsible.
I hear your discontent and will do what is necessary.
You immediately disown your collaborator 
I’m sorry but at the moment we have a heavy workload and the team is snowed under, which explains Alexandra's reaction time.
Tactless! Your client doesn’t need to know your organisational problems.

2 / 3   Bad reputation
Internally your team has a bad reputation: don't respect the delays, don't always answer the phone etc. What do you do?
You get the team together:" how can we improve our image?"
Premature, first you need to know what the objective is: what are the indicators for a good reputation?
You announce new operating rules: reply within 48 hours maximum, answer the phone etc.
It would be more pertinent to construct the rules together with the team.
You organise a team meeting: "what image do we want to project?"
Yes, this is the first step: to know what we want to achieve. Once what is expected is clearly defined, it will be possible to construct an action plan.
You make a list of all the negative remarks received, in order to prove the necessity for improvement.
Pointless and dangerous:  the team may freeze up. A few examples are sufficient.
3 / 3   Defending your team
What does "defending your team" really mean?
Keeping them from criticism.
No, certain criticism allows us to progress.
Justifying every action or decision of the team.
No, some may be neither pertinent nor justifiable: the manager acknowledges that he and his team made a mistake. 
Accepting your part of the responsibility in case of error or failure.

Yes, defending means:" if there’s a problem, I am party responsible".
Your score is
You finished!
To review the questions and responses, please choose from the list below.