During my 18 years in the Toastmaster’s organization, I often used the phrase, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” I still believe it today.
One of the things that helps us all grow as leaders is helpful feedback. My experience as a leader has taught me that almost everyone likes to know how they are doing and would appreciate timely and honest feedback. Unfortunately, that is not the experience of many people where they work. They really don’t know how they are doing; don’t know if their immediate supervisor is happy or unhappy. It would be admittedly difficult to hear constructive or critical feedback, but not as difficult as hearing nothing at all.
Ephesians 4:15 tells us to speak the truth in love. We should not be so loving that we are not truthful, but not so truthful that we are not loving. Not easy to achieve, but well worth striving for. Author Kim Scott likes to think of it as caring personally and challenging directly—same idea. Proverbs 20:28 in The Message calls it “loving Integrity.”
- We can be negligent in not giving any feedback at all, except at an annual review process. One day they are let go and don’t have a clue why due to the complete absence of feedback—hearing something like, well it’s just not working out, or you are not a good fit for what we need—not very helpful without some explanation which should have been discussed long before hearing those fateful words, “We are letting you go.”
- We can be negligent in only giving feedback when something is wrong.
- We can be negligent of only giving positive feedback and never confronting unacceptable work or attitudes
Here is a Book Note I did on Get Rid of the Performance Review. I think you will find it provocative and helpful. It will definitely get you thinking.
I love Ken Blanchard’s idea of trying to catch somebody doing something right! We could certainly use more of that.
The admirable thing is to give timely feedback both when something is not right and needs to be discussed as well as giving positive and affirming feedback when something is done well. I have never met a person who complained that they were encouraged too much. Many bosses/supervisors are too busy to have helpful conversations with their direct reports, or simply don’t care. Either way it’s not good, and not honoring to anyone.
In my daily devotional time in the Bible, I recently ran across Exodus 39:43 in the New Living Translation. “Then Moses inspected all their work. When he found it had been done just as the Lord commanded him, he blessed them.” I am inclined to believe that, after inspecting all their work, he found that it had NOT been done just as the Lord had commanded him, he would have confronted them. It’s two sides of the feedback coin.
I’ve been thinking what it could like for me to “bless people” who look to me for leadership. Here are a few things I thought of:
- Send a personal hand-written note expressing appreciation
- Buy them a small gift
- Recognize them publicly for something well done
- Step into their office or workspace and personally express gratitude
In closing, here are two questions you can ask those who report to you:
- What do you need from me that you are currently not getting which would help you enjoy your responsibilities more and do them well?
- How do you experience me?
Are you secure enough to ask those two questions and listen without becoming defensive? I trust so.