Trigger Questions

Who Do You Feed When You Give Feedback?

Trigger Question #12

“What on earth were you thinking!” is not really useful feedback.

. . .

You are a leader, a manager and a boss. (Yes, you are all three. Enough with the simplistic role divisions. But that’s fodder for a future nonsense insight.)

A key duty of a leader is to uplift followers by celebrating how far they’ve come and to inspire them to face what still lies ahead. One of the key duties of a manager is to explain to subordinates what they are doing well and where they can improve. And the key role of a boss is to tell workers what they are doing wrong and what they had better do to fix it.

In other words, a leader, a manager, and a boss must give feedback. And give it in a style appropriate to the individual and the situation.

But here’s the tricky thing. Who really benefits from the feedback?

We learn at business schools and on leadership and management development programs that the person receiving the feedback is the one who benefits, or who should benefit. Yes. But.

But if you (the leader, the manager, and the boss) are doing your job well of giving feedback, then you will benefit even more than the receiver of the feedback.

Because here’s what we conveniently forget about feedback and performance appraisals. The performance of a subordinate reflects far more on us than on the subordinate being appraised. If my subordinate is not performing well, then it is my fault for not helping the person to improve. Or it is my fault for hiring the “wrong” person for the job.

Or maybe I don’t actually understand the job I am appraising.

You cannot give meaningful feedback, feedback that is actually useful, unless you understand fully what you are talking about. You must be crystal clear about purpose, about outcomes that matter, about why-we-do-how-we-do-what-we-do. About what matters now and next.

Only then will you be able to learn from what worked (success) and what did not work (failure). And only then can you to teach it in the form of appropriate feedback that benefits both parties. That’s how giving practical feedback makes you more effective.

The only way you will learn to give effective feedback is to practice giving feedback. And how do you practice? Through repetition. By giving constant feedback. Not annually, not quarterly, but endlessly.

Make giving feedback a habit. A relentless, unrelenting habit. That’s how feedback feeds your career.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.

. . .