It’s tough to give or receive feedback in a culture of ‘nice’, where we infinitely extend grace.
While working with organizations I notice the leaders becoming frustrated that their people aren’t performing as expected. Yet, not wanting their people to feel bad, they avoid the difficult conversations that hold people accountable. Some leaders create stories about their people and excuse their behavior based on this. In turn, many of these leaders take on more work, sometimes to the point of exhaustion, to cover for what their people are not doing.
When I ask about this I’m told, “that’s just the way we do it here” or “we’ve always done it this way.” However, these leaders fail to realize that in not giving or receiving feedback no one gets the opportunity to make corrections and live into their full potential or capacity. Everyone’s just getting by and maintaining the status quo.
If we push the boundaries of our culture toward giving and receiving feedback we have the opportunity to increase trust and build stronger relationships, leading to joint ownership of what needs to be accomplished. With greater accountability and transparency people have the opportunity to experience their contributions, feel fulfilled, and have a greater sense of unity.
This is part 4 in the 5-part series on the Art of Receiving Feedback by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.Push the boundaries of culture toward giving and receiving feedback to increase trust and build stronger relationships. Click To Tweet
Leaders who know how to receive feedback well model open, authentic behaviors that go a long way toward increasing trust and reducing workplace conflicts. You’ll show your people how to be open to learning without becoming defensive. By example you’re giving them permission to do the same. You can create a culture where receiving feedback is seen as an opportunity for growth rather than a problem to be fixed.
But we all know that receiving feedback doesn’t come naturally to most of us. Our default reaction seems to be to deflect feedback, get defensive and protect ourselves from admitting we could be wrong, we’ve failed, or we may need to change.
Organizations can’t be agile when leaders are not able or willing to shift rapidly. This is why feedback loops are so important for meeting complex marketplace needs. Everyone needs to be open to change and that isn’t easy when people are defending turf and protecting opinions.
Confidence when challenged
As you receive feedback, three triggers will prompt you to categorize the provider’s comments, note Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen in Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (Penguin Books, 2014):
- Truth Triggers
If feedback is erroneous or off base, you can face it objectively and depersonalize it. Something that’s clearly untrue can be sorted out and dissected. Prompt the feedback giver to explain further or provide examples that work truth back into the equation.
- Relationship Triggers
Feelings about the feedback-giver can taint your perspective, depending on trust levels. Do your feelings about the giver call the giver’s judgment into question? Recognizing this pitfall and filtering its effect can help you detach from the relationship and focus on the true issues.
- Identity Triggers
Feelings of inadequacy often trigger self-worth woes. Remembering that your leadership position doesn’t determine your worth, nor does always having to be right or to succeed. Questioning yourself after negative feedback is normal. But acknowledging where you’re strong and where you are not often screens out overreacting emotional reactions and allows you to welcome feedback.
Being aware of your triggers lets you instinctively evaluate feedback and sources, assess the intention, compare facts to opinions, and rely on your strong identity and self-worth. Working with a coach or mentor can prove invaluable in strengthening these skills.