I love feedback. It may not look like it when you first serve it to me but I do take it seriously and work on it. I promise I do. Feedback in any form is precious especially when one receives so little of it. It’s gotten to the point that I have on innumerable occasions asked for it directly much to the dismay of the other person. No, I’m not needy. It is because external feedback and self-retrospection are the only two tools I have towards continuous growth and I’d be damned if I don’t abuse both.
It is appalling how poor people are at giving and receiving feedback. HR pro’s themselves are rather bad at it. My own people would rather give me endless indirect clues and leave me to hunt for the hidden meaning. Don’t do it. I am bad at hints and clues. I can bet four other people on your team are too. Sit us down and tell us exactly how we are doing, the good and bad both. It is better than letting folks shoot in the dark.
Yes, it may get uncomfortable because you aren’t used to doing it. Hell, nobody is. It is as awkward for the person on the receiving end as it is for the one delivering it, which is probably why people are more comfortable shirking compliments or justifying them vs graciously accepting it with a ‘Thank you’. I don’t need to tell you the benefits of delivering feedback; you know all of it or at least enough to know it’s important. This post is just a wake up call to get up and start doing it. Not just when the process demands you to do so but round the year, all the time. Not in sneaky, veiled sentences but in open, honest conversations. Not just opinions and interpretations but with data and facts. If you can’t give regular feedback, you are a bad manager, peer or friend (whichever is applicable). Period.
And be prepared for pushback. Be prepared to not have your feedback accepted and for retaliation. It’s ok. Receiving feedback is just as hard as delivering it. It doesn’t mean it should stop. Try giving me feedback and you’ll realize just how awkward it can get, but please, don’t let that stop you in any way. When you see me improve, you can take equal credit. In fact, I will give it to you myself.
Feedback is probably the best thing you can do for another person. It’s true.