…this is a very common reaction to the ‘F’ word!
Whether you’re giving or receiving feedback, we’ve been conditioned that the experience will be painful, embarrassing or uncomfortable at best.
So where does this feeling come from… perhaps our previous experience with feedback?
Two common occasions come to mind… annual reviews and performance issues.
As a manager, feedback as part of the annual review is always going to be an impossible task… you simply can not sum up an entire year’s worth of work into one piece of feedback.
As a team member, anything other than a pat on the back is going to rub us up the wrong way, mostly because the opportunity to course correct has long since past.☹️
No matter how much we sandwich the delivery of feedback between two slices of ‘good news’, it still feels like a drive-by shooting that we have no control over.
And for us humans, a sense of control is extremely important to us.
When it comes to conversations around performance or behaviour issues, they are often delayed until boiling point, because for some reason, it’s just damn uncomfortable.
This means before you even start the conversation, the ‘stakes’ have already escalated and it feels like do or die for your job in the next 3 meetings.
It’s no wonder we all like to avoid feedback when the majority of our prior experience is…. well… horrendous?!
What if we can reframe feedback?
And no, we’re not talking about calling it “constructive feedback”…
We’re not going to preach the benefits of ‘good’ feedback as a motivator either, we’ve got something much easier in mind.
To help us get comfortable with feedback, we need to rewire our brains and make our experience with feedback much better.
How do we do this? Start by staring at black the dot for 90 seconds ⚫ Only joking!
Step 1 is about building a habit.
We start with positive feedback only, it’s more like an everyday compliment, and it must be authentic.
Look out for behaviours that are aligned with company values and shine a light on them. eg. “Hey you handled that difficult phone call really calmly and turned the situation around, well done.”
When we’ve made it a habit to look out for great team contributions and compliment it a few times a week, something awesome starts to happen…
As the giver of positive feedback, we start to get comfortable in the process of giving feedback.
As a recipient, we also get comfortable in the process.
We notice how good it makes us feel that somebody noticed our efforts, and in turn it makes us want to ‘pay it forward’ by recognizing someone else’s efforts.
Step 2 is a bi-product of regular positive feedback…
Our internal perceptions start changing based on these more positive experiences with feedback, which in turn builds up team trust…
… so that down the track, we have earned the right to make a suggestion for improvement and because it’s balanced with the previous positives, it’s not a drama.
Step 3 always be forward looking…
If you spot some room for improvement with a teammate, remember that none of us like to be told what we did wrong — it doesn’t feel nice because we can’t change it.
Instead, we can deliver the same message by describing what can be done to improve in the future… so there is a chance to change and improve.
eg. I asked my teammate for feedback on this blog. He could have said… “Good blog but there was no example feedback so anyone who’s read it might not have fully understood.”
Instead he said… “Good blog, what do you think about adding example feedback so future readers can see really see what you mean?”
So there it is, in action! The blog now has an example and I feel better for it.
As a recipient it feels way nicer to receive a suggestion this way and as the giver it doesn’t even feel awkward.