Do you remember the last time someone gave you feedback? Complimented you on your work or simply mentioned something about you that you haven’t heard before? Feedback helps us learn and develop and grow. Bill Gates suggests that "we all need people who will give us feedback. That is how we improve."
Feedback can help us understand things like:-
Giving feedback is not an easy task. In my experience when giving feedback, I have had to train myself to assume that everyone wants to, and can, get better. When I take this approach I am able to engage in discussions about areas for improvement with an optimistic and open heart.
I developed this skill and lesson while reviewing the design of the "Things Mama Used To Say" Proverb Cards with a talented designer - a guy I knew was capable of great things. But the design I was looking at wasn't great. To produce the result that I wanted, I knew that he would have to go back to the drawing board. To deliver news like this to a team member, I used to go back and forth between two commonly used but ineffective paths.
Wrong approach #1: avoid telling the truth and talk around the need to start again. The unspoken assumption of this approach: he is lazy, defensive, or arrogant, designers are hard to work with. The outcome: mediocrity. He doesn’t grow, I don’t get the pack of cards I knew our customers needed, and he comes to see me as a nice person but not the kind of leader who can get him to the next level.
To empower him I informed him that, "I'm really happy you are leading this project. I have seen great examples of your work many times. When you do, it’s undeniable and everyone knows it. But in this case, I’m not seeing that quality as yet. I believe in your ability to produce a great product that will excite our customers and help us achieve our mission. So I’d love to see a few more ideas."
A few days later, he came back with something far more inspiring. Something that lived up to that undeniable greatness we both knew he was capable of - producing a great product.
Takeaway: When giving critical feedback, remind the person that you believe in their abilities. Once they have heard you, remind them of the core purpose you are all trying to achieve - remember they want excellence as much as you do. Ask them to try again, using their potential for excellence and the company’s mission as a guiding light and inspiration.
To be an effective leader always check for understanding: Clarify understanding with the individual to ensure they are getting the most out of their feedback.
As we grow in our leadership roles it is important to become aware of how we give and receive feedback. Giving and receiving feedback might seem weird and feel uncomfortable at times, but gradually these will become second nature with practice and then you’ll start to see the impact that great feedback can make.