Feedback is a key principle of growth and improvement. It is nearly impossible to grow without feedback.
I want to split this email into Part 1 and Part 2.
In part 1 I will talk about encouragement and correctional feedback.
In part 2 I will talk about giving and receiving feedback.
Part 1: Importance of encouragement and correction
Both encouragement and correction are needed.
Some leaders are great with encouragement (calling out the gold in others) and some are great with correction. The goal would be to be equally great at both. This takes intentionality.
I hear this often…”Why do I have to tell them ‘good job’ when they are simply doing what they are supposed to do.” And to be fully transparent, I often operate that way as well.
I have two responses to this mindset. First, this principle…”What gets rewarded gets repeated.”
Second, I try to appeal to their humanity. I ask leaders “What if your boss only talked to you when things needed to be better. How frustrated would you be? I’m guessing just once it would feel good for your boss to walk by your office, stop, and tell you are doing a great job in leading your team…or tell you that you coached a great game.
It is human nature to respond to a ‘job well done’ comment. (Those that don’t think they need it, well…you are probably lying to yourself!)
I don’t think you should gush over everything someone does well…but it is important to point out the good things your people are doing and the gold you see in your people.
On the flip side, only encouraging and not correcting will hinder a person from being their best. We all need to be corrected. We all need to be shown what we did wrong and how we can correct it. We are not helping our people if we just encourage. You can’t encourage a person to greatness.
Part 2: Giving and Receiving Feedback
Before we get into the specifics of giving feedback, let’s talk about three reasons why some struggle with giving feedback.
Constraints to Giving Feedback
– Fear of man/People pleasing. People are resistant to give critical or corrective feedback because they do not want to hurt feelings or have the other person mad at them. It is important that you view feedback as a necessity for growth. It is not unloving or rude to give feedback…If you really love and care for someone, you will give them feedback… both the corrective and the ‘attaboy’ type feedback.
– 100% results-oriented. Everyone wants results. However, not everyone has a development philosophy to drive those results. When you simply have a ‘you either perform or you don’t’ mindset, you won’t take the time to give feedback to help your people get better.
– Lack of competence. It is virtually impossible to give good feedback when you lack competence in your field. This lack of competence creates insecurities, which constrains giving feedback.
Keys to Giving Feedback
Here are three keys to giving feedback.
– Be direct but empathetic. There are two ditches in feedback…too vague or too blunt. When it is vague, the other person doesn’t understand. When it is too blunt, the other person has a hard time hearing…usually going into self-protection mode and getting defensive.
– Be specific. Be radically specific in your feedback.
– Give ownership on the growth process. By collaborating on steps to correct issues, you will get more buy-in to the process. “Here is where you need to get better, let’s brainstorm the steps necessary to get better.”
The other side of feedback is receiving.
Constraints to Receiving Feedback
I consistently see two constraints to receiving feedback
– Pride and/or insecurities. When a person is prideful, they think they have it all figured out. Insecurity is a brother of pride. Often, insecurities show themselves as pride. It looks on the surface like pride but in reality, at a core level, the person is really insecure and doesn’t want to be seen as not being enough, so they put up defensive walls to protect.
– Lazy. If a person receives feedback in an area that needs improvement, it will require effort to change. And quite honestly, they don’t want to put in the effort. So they gently avoid feedback.
Keys to Receiving Feedback.
– Invite. The moment you resist feedback is the moment people will stop giving you feedback. Invite feedback. Ask for it!
– Ask questions. This will help lower your defenses and get clarity on the feedback. By asking questions, you are communicating that this is important and you are interested in getting clarity.
– Say thank you. By saying thank you, you increase the chances of getting more feedback in the future.
– Have a growth mindset. Feedback isn’t meant to communicate that you are worthless and a failure. It is simply a tool to help you get better. This is a growth opportunity not a commentary on your value as a person.
Elite Leaders and Feedback
I have yet to come across an elite leader who isn’t craving feedback to help him/her get better. And those same elite leaders give feedback in really healthy ways.
I have also not been around an elite program that doesn’t have a culture of feedback. A culture of feedback is one where feedback is expected, embraced, and happens consistently.
If feedback is given and received in unhealthy ways, creating a culture of feedback is impossible. People will resist feedback and it will keep you from creating the culture you want.
I am convinced that you and your program can’t get better if you do not create a culture of feedback!
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