Hearing this word probably stirs up feelings inside of you. It does for me. And, it does for organizations. Have you ever heard the expression… “praise in public, criticize in private?” This has generated a cultural norm, that this is the correct way of interacting with another where there are more than two participants. Is this the “right” way?
I believe that most norms/policies were created because of one instance. Picture it…one instance where someone gave another person critical/corrective feedback in front of others and it went poorly. So, a norm/policy was enacted to curb this behavior. Why? It was probably uncomfortable for those who witnessed it and severely uncomfortable for the one receiving it. This instance probably created some interpersonal residue and fear. I get it. To minimize the impact, make a rule that says, “Don’t criticize in public.”
I also believe that this is a symptom—it’s not the diagnosis. Meaning, the inability to deliver feedback well is not the issue. It’s the culture. The culture consists of relationships, operating norms, how we get things done, roles/goals, values, etc. If the culture isn’t one that supports flubs or airs hurt feelings, then we’ll never build our skills. Giving and receiving feedback IS a skill. Too many times we believe we have to perfect our skills before we can practice them. False. Life is the playground/practice field. Get monkeying around.
Do you have a trusted colleague/relationship at work? If not, start there. Have a real conversation about your relationship…
Do you trust me? If not, what behaviors do you need to see to build trust?
What types of things can I come to you with?
I’m looking at trying on some new skills. Would you be willing to give me some feedback on three ways I am or am not performing this new skill?
***I realize these are all questions that are geared for oneself. To build an effective relationship, you must inquire about and support the other. AND, to build relationships/trust, especially in the working environment, it’s helpful if someone extends some vulnerability. So, in these examples, that someone would be you. Read the room. If someone seems utterly shocked that you’re asking them for anything, circle back and work on building the relationship!
I began with FEEDBACK. Tomorrow I will be providing some skill building tips on how to give feedback effectively. Today, make building the relationships the norm.