Do you get enough feedback?

July 6th, 2015

gold star

CRANIUM Point: Interaction not micromanagement
Honor team input. Leverage others experience. Gain loyalty through allowing a choice and a voice.

You’re not a mindreader and neither is your team.  There are many things you could be doing better but you might not know what they are if you don’t ask.  People withhold constructive criticism for many reasons but usually to spare your feelings or theirs.  This is a barrier to progress that must be constantly whittled down.

It takes time to build a culture of constructive feedback, both positive and negative.  Since this can be a sensitive area start small and in the safest way possible.  Begin with two or three people whom you trust and be the feedback guinea pig.  Ask each to describe how your behavior has impacted them in the last day or week. Ask each to tell you one thing they would like for you to continue and one thing they would like for you to stop.

A little preparation will go a long way to make this outreach successful.  Be prepared for a little sting; the feedback might hurt your feelings.  Have a canned response ready in mind for this situation such as:

  • “thanks, I’ll think about that” or,
  • “that’s interesting, I’ll think about that,” or even
  • “okay, I’ll think about that.”

Do you see a pattern here? Even if your non-verbals tell them you’re seething inside you’re at least giving them a verbal cue that you’ve got the message and that the ball is in your court.  You can always come back and finish up if your blood is running a little hot in the moment.  You haven’t made any commitments or said anything defensive.  All you’ve done is acknowledge the feedback, a good thing, and promise to ponder it, also a good thing.

If you want to go a step further do a quick training on nonviolent communication.  There’s a load of psychological reasons for this specific method but, in general, if you just follow the basic steps it can really take the edge off an otherwise difficult conversation:

  • Observe: Just say what happened, “I heard you say _____,” or, “I saw you do _____,” are solid examples.
  • Feeling: Say how it felt, “When that happen I felt _____.”
  • Need: Now transform the feeling into what you need, “I felt _____ because I need _____.”
  • Request: Make that need a formal request to the other person, ” Will you please do _____ for me.”

With a little bit of practice these four steps can be magical.  There are many more resources available at the fabulously helpful Center for Nonviolent Communication.

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