The ultimate question
This non-threatening language (with the right kind of vocal intonation) can soften and release the natural defense systems that can get triggered in others when they are given unsolicited feedback.
Creating a high-trust, high-performance culture
Last week, I was the guest speaker for a major insurance company. My audience was made up of 100 professionals specializing in fields of law, communications and government affairs. We discussed the importance of coaching and feedback as a means of keeping employees engaged. My talk was entitled: Everyday Feedback: creating a culture of high performance.
Why is feedback important?
High performing organizations practice everyday feedback as part of a high-trust culture and commitment to continuous improvement. Constructive feedback, both giving and receiving, is one of the ways that you can invest in talent and engage your workforce.
Don’t wait until the year-end performance review process to give your direct reports the constructive feedback that they need to grow, change, and improve. Ongoing feedback is a powerful, but underutilized tool in the workplace.
Three benefits that you’ll experience if you practice everyday feedback at work:
- Help you to stay out of your blind spots, or at least be able to course-correct before something goes terribly wrong in your career.
- Boost self-directed professional development and personal improvement of yourself and others.
- Motivate, engage and retain the talented people in your workforce by providing real-time, constructive, helpful feedback that they crave (especially true of the Millennial generation: those born after 1980)
Not all feedback is constructive
Watch this funny video clip from the movie Office Space. It is a good illustration of the kind of feedback you’ll want to avoid dispensing to others. Notice how de-motivating it is to the employee, making him less eager and less willing to do his job.
What constitutes effective feedback?
In my research, I found a terrific article written by Grant Wiggins. He wrote about feedback for the academic/educational community, but I think his insights apply equally well to corporate and business environments. One of his key messages is that
“…By teaching less and providing more feedback, we can produce greater learning.”
It would be worth your time to read his entire article, Seven Keys to Effective Feedback, which appeared in the September 2012 blog of the ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development)
Below are the 7 qualities of effective feedback that Grant Wiggins suggests that we need to be mindful of when dispensing feedback to others:
- Tangible and transparent
Mr. Wiggins also points out the often confused differences between feedback, advice, and evaluation.
- Feedback versus Advice. “We often jump right to advice without first ensuring that the learner has sought, grasped and tentatively accepted the feedback on which the advice is based.” – Grant Wiggins, ASCD 9/2012
- Feedback versus Evaluation. How often have you received feedback such as:“Good job.” or “B+” or “Meets Requirements.” or “I know that you could do better”? While these comments may be well-intended feedback, they fail to give the learner anything concrete to work on. Theses comments are really value judgements rather than effective feedback.
Fishbowl exercises are safe ways to learn from each other
Your Networking Goal for this Week
Each day for the next seven days of this week, I challenge you to do two things:
- Ask for feedback from your work colleagues or family members at least once each day. Listen completely and release any defense mechanism you feel rising in your body or mind. If you don’t understand the feedback, ask for specific examples and suggestions on what you could change to improve.
- Provide feedback (whether solicited or not) to a work colleague within 24 hours of observing a behavior/action that merits it. Preface your feedback with the ultimate question, “Are you open to some feedback?”
At the end of the week, reflect on what you experienced. How did it make you feel? What did you learn? What will you now change/modify as a result of giving and receiving this feedback to improve yourself and your performance?
In the words of Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, as well as many other leadership and business books:
“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
p.s. I’m open to your feedback. If you have any constructive feedback on this networking tip or others that I have posted in the past, please email me at email@example.com