Feedback: It's Both Give and Take

Feedback.

It can be hard to hear.

It can also be hard to give, especially to give it well.

Is there a trick to making this giving and receiving of feedback a smashing success?

I think so, although trick might not be the best word.

Last week I had the HONOUR! of receiving feedback from a senior leader in the organization where I work.  I say honour because the routine and regular giving of feedback has not been a part of my experience in past jobs.  In the past it was kind of like this:

If I don't hear anything... everything must be good.... Right? ....er....

I'm not sure if you've been a part of the silence-is-golden type of workplace culture before but I believe that it just doesn't work.

People in a feedback vacuum are left to their own imaginations of how they are doing, and these imaginings rarely reflect reality.


Back to what happend last week.

The leader asked me if we could meet for them to provide me some feedback.
I said Yes.
At the meeting, the leader asked some open ended questions to gain context.
The leader then tailored/customized the feedback based on the understanding gained from my answers to the questions.
I listened and sought to understand.
Later that day I fired off an email to clarify what I had taken away as the feedback.
The leader responded with a few clarifying points and then did something utterly ridiculous...

The leader asked me if I could give them feedback... on the way they gave me the feedback!!!!

INCREDIBLE!

I did have a few things I thought the leader could do to improve and so we got together the next day to discuss.

The communication was open, collaborative, and direct.
Amazing.

There are some good lessons I took away from the experience and I'd like to share them.

ON GIVING FEEDBACK:

1. Ask permission to give the feedback first. This ensures the person is in a decent frame of mind to hear you.
2. Before giving the feedback, seek to understand the context around the topic and be open to changing/altering the feedback you were going to deliver.
3. Listen generously.
4. When you are done ask the receiver what they heard you say or what they are taking away.
5. Ask the receiver if they can give you feedback on your delivery.


ON RECEIVING FEEDBACK:

1. Get in a mindset of openness in preparation.  Realize feedback is for your good and if you can hear it, you will grow and be better.
2. Listen generously.
3. Check pride at the door. Realize you, like the rest of humanity, are a work in progress.
4. Reflect back to the feedback provider what you heard them say to ensure you got it.
5. Decide on how you will allow the feedback to change you.

These principles aren't just limited to the workplace and I'm looking forward to trying them with my kids, friends and relationships.

Take the opportunity to be both a giver and receiver of feedback and watch your workplace, your parenting and your relationships all experience a level-up !!

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