Here is my feedback about your feedback.
We’ve all been there: an employee makes a mistake, and we have the compulsion to correct. Or perhaps we are the recipient of the correction. We might be doing our normal work routine, only to learn that a superior finds our efforts flawed. When we ask for how to improve, they smile, and offer little that is constructively applicable, but they feel better knowing they have checked off the “I corrected my employee box.”
Gone are the days when managers were the innkeepers for all things control and perfection, and yet, this is exactly how many managers still operate. Instead of simply promoting people into leadership, we need to empower them with the tools to build high performing teams. And one of those important tools is a proper understanding of useful feedback.
Scott Berinato (2017) reviewed the research of doctoral candidate Paul Green who found that many people have a tendency to reject negative feedback, and instead look for validation outside of those offering the critique. What improved reception of the not so fun news? Validation. It turns out (gasp) people are more receptive to negative feedback if they are secure in their value within the organization, and the value of their strengths on a team.
So what does this mean? Am I advocating that critique be offered like bacon wrapped dates at the holidays? A little something unsure wrapped in something super tasty? Am I saying we all need a participation trophy for showing up at work with hearts and unicorns on it?
I’m not saying that. What I am saying is that if you want feedback to actually be effective, consider the methods of delivery that work. Here are 3 “Do’s” of feedback to remember:
Do give feedback often. Don’t wait until something is wrong to be engaged. Acknowledge people’s work, and attach it to the unique qualities they bring to the team. Consider what items actually need feedback, and let go of small stuff that isn’t symptomatic of a larger issue.
Do create a culture of feedback. That means employees do not associate feedback with fear but rather an expectation amongst trusted colleagues to share opinions, innovations and facts.
Do get in there and be the first to model what good feedback looks like. That means you need to receive feedback as well and model the kind of response you hope your employees will give. If you respond defensively then they most likely will too.
Now that you have received my feedback about your feedback, I’d like to affirm you as a valued reader to this blog;) Keep up the good work!