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The FEEDBACK post:

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw





Pause for just a moment and think about the last time you had to give some feedback that you didn't want to give. (psst…If you can't think of a time, and you are a leader, that might be a problem). Did you stew about giving it, and blow the other persons potential reaction out of proportion? Did you picture the other person being defensive and blustery and storming out of the room? Or, did you not give it much thought and just dead-pan deliver exactly what was in your head? How was it actually received when you did give it? Did the person thank you profusely for your wisdom and take notes, were they defensive? Did they ask any clarifying questions? Feedback is a 2-part invention for sure. When you have a skilled giver and receiver it can be a real gift, the catalyst for personal change and blind-spot removal. When either party shows up badly, fruit can still come from it, but it might not be immediate. If you are in a position to regularly give feedback think about your “feedback personality". There are 3 primary ways people give feedback:

  1. Consistently & specifically - this is ideal if you are in a position of power or influence. It lets your employees know they can rely on you to provide the information they need to meet or exceed the expectations of their role. This is often designed into existence with a performance management program of some sort.

  2. Infrequently & dramatically - this is typically because the leader doesn't want to hurt feelings, or is conflict avoidant. When they finally get around to providing feedback it is usually because things have gotten pretty bad, or because they utilize the (very ineffective) annual performance review. I think of this type of employee-employer relationship somewhat akin to the husband or wife who says, “I told you I loved you 5 years ago, I'll let you know if anything changes" This leaves employees feeling unsure of where they stand, and often resentful of not being given the chance to change course sooner, or know what was expected of them.

  3. Never.

Obviously the first feedback personality is what anyone managing people should strive for. If you aren't skilled at giving consistent & specific feedback you can get better. You probably need a plan and a context to give & receive feedback (I can help with that!). I haven't encountered a company with a healthy feedback culture who didn't take specific actions to get there. Engage a growth mentality, and make a plan. You can use my simple feedback worksheet to get started.


If you want to get better at receiving feedback (a noble place to start!), consider reading or listening to THANKS FOR THE FEEDBACK: the science and art of receiving feedback well.


If you want to hear why “the feedback sandwich” doesn't work the Radical Candor pod has a great episode on it. You can find it on the link below. In it you'll hear why “Feedback should be routine, brushing and flossing, not a root canal”: https://www.radicalcandor.com/podcast/s5-ep15-avoid-the-feedback-sandwich/







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