How to get the Best out of Feedback Instead of Creating Conflicts and Distress?
Giving and receiving feedback often leads to tensions and discomfort. People so easily feel criticised and get defensive. Feedback, however, is necessary to improve and grow, but only when done wisely. By combining self-reflection with feedback, we can significantly increase the positive impact it can have.
These 4 blog posts give checklists to help supervisors, leaders and HR managers to simplify and structure their current way of working with feedback. The 5 rules to receive feedback, the 5 rules to give feedback and the 5 topics of reflection are designed to help you get the most out of feedback and turn insights into actionable improvements.
If you rather watch a video than read this text about Feedback & Reflection, click this link.
The 6 Different Faces of Feedback
Feedback means different things to different people. In the name of “Feedback”, people justify a lot of different behaviours - not all are beneficial to your organisation. So, before deep-diving into the rules of conscious feedback, let’s look at the 6 different faces of feedback. How are you as a manager or leader choosing to use Feedback?
1. Feedback to Complain
People often confuse feedback and complaining. In some companies, the only way to fix problems is to fill-in a “feedback form” or fill-up the “suggestion box”. Complaining-feedback between colleagues easily starts conflicts. This confusion is one of the reasons why people are so afraid of receiving feedback.
2. Feedback as a Feedback Loop
When you’re driving fast, you need to know exactly when you cross that invisible speed-limit, to avoid getting a ticket. It’s the same with human behaviour - feedback can help you to adjust behaviour to different cultures, personalities and styles of relationships. Every person we work with is unique. Without feedback, we easily make wrong assumptions about how to behave and overstep that invisible line of respect.
3. Feedback as a Social-Contract
In companies where continuous improvement is of the utmost importance, every new employee makes a social-agreement about staying open to receive feedback. This is symbolised by “I love feedback” stickers used around the offices. Unfortunately “I love Feedback” is sometimes construed as a licence to be “brutally honest”, which usually creates more havoc than positive company culture.
4. Feedback as a Design Process
Dyson is famous for having used several hundred iterations of prototyping and feedback. With user-centred design-processes, teams invest time and energy as early as possible to make rapid prototypes. This is done with the sole intention of testing their design early enough to receive valuable feedback from users. It allows the team to fail and try again. Feedback can be built into any process to improve, develop and learn.
5. Feedback as a Gift
Just like people who gather at Christmas to share gifts, feedback in TEAL organisations is often considered to be a precious gift given to help each other learn and grow. This is something to look forward to. They use a “harvester”, who writes down the feedback from a small group of colleagues. The harvester then hands over the written feedback from the group as a symbolic gift for each person. Everybody reflects on 2 powerful questions for each person receiving feedback:
What is the one thing I value with you?
What is the one area where I sense you could change and grow?
6. Feedback as a Way to Lead
The US Navy Seals talk about taking “extreme ownership” for feedback with regards to what worked or failed on the battlefield for example to debrief causes of accidental “friendly fire”. As a leader, asking for feedback is more heroic than giving feedback, because it requires great courage to ask and great humility to receive that feedback.
As you can see, feedback can be used in many ways to benefit your organisation, teamwork and individual growth. In Part 2. we’ll focus on The 5 rules to receive feedback to get the most benefits out of it.
Green Elephant empowers the next generation of conscious leaders to become more influential by upgrading their capacity to have meaningful and crucial conversations.