This is a rant. I’m sorry.
We have our mouths full of feedback. We are eager to get feedback on our work. We consider sharing feedback as a crucial part of the work of any leader. Feedback this. Feedback that.
Yeah, that’s all true. Except we’re missing one part.
When it comes to leaving our comfort zones, we instantly start sucking at sharing feedback. We suck big time. You don’t like how our folks from PR team dealt with a recent initiative, right? After all you are just telling me that. So why won’t you just go and tell them? Brilliant, isn’t it?
It’s pretty easy, you know. You use your mouth to construct these things called words and you build sentences out of words. And then the magic happens – you can transmit the message using sentences. Voila!
That’s easy. Really. Just remember to be honest. Share the message in a straightforward way. Don’t judge. You will manage. I believe in you.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not freaking out over a single situation. I see this as a pattern. Actually, whenever I see any questions regarding feedback my default answer is “honest and straightforward.” The problem is this answer doesn’t seem to very popular. Actually beating around the bush or simply “don’t tell anything” types of answers seems to be the standard behavior for many.
So why, oh why, are you surprised that you don’t get much quality feedback? After all you too are contributing to building this sick organization that is just afraid to share any. It’s simple – if no one shares feedback no one receives it either. It doesn’t populate like freaking lemmings or something.
And while we are on this topic, well, it’s not only how you (don’t) share feedback; it’s also how you receive it. Next time someone wants to share something critical about you or your work, try this: STFU and listen. The other person has just moved their butt out of their comfort zone to tell you something they think is important. The least you shall do is to let them do their part. But you should do better – listen and try to learn something from it. A simple “thank you” seems proper too.
You may even disagree with the merits of the feedback but it isn’t some kind of odd negotiation or something. No one is trying to win this discussion with you. No one is attacking you. So spare me the drama and don’t get all defensive. It neither helps you nor the other guy.
Most of all, it definitely does nothing good to the feedback culture you may try to introduce into your organization. Not to mention building trust.
If you really want to build an open feedback culture in your company, start sharing and stop being a jerk, I mean defensive, when you receive feedback. If your organization doesn’t appreciate this, think again whether it is the right organization to be with.
Now that you asked, yes, such an attitude means that you become vulnerable in front of your superiors, peers and colleagues. And yes, it is a crucial part of building trust. I don’t know how it is in your case but I wouldn’t like to work for an organization that is incapable of building trust. Would you?