So, yeah, I’m really lucky to have what I’ll call “professional” friends, thankfully many of which I now consider personal friends, that are willing to give me ‘real’ feedback.
What is ‘real’ feedback, you ask?
When I suck, they tell me I suck. When I’m brilliant they tell me I suck! Just kidding. When I’m brilliant they tell me I’m brilliant. When I can be better, they tell me that as well.
You can’t have this in normal work feedback.
You see there are two things in a normal work feedback loop that make it impossible for you to accept and deliver real feedback. One is competition. The other is trust.
My friends have only one intent when they give me feedback. They want me to be the best I can be at whatever it is I’m trying to be. I/They feel absolutely no competition with me on any level. When I do something great, they’re cheering for me. When they do something great, I’m cheering for them. We only want to see each other succeed. When you are delivering feedback from a place where your ONLY intent is to see the other person truly have success, then you can deliver ‘real’ feedback.
The other aspect is trust. I must trust with all my being that they only want to see me succeed. This way I’ll accept their feedback with nothing but positive intent and gratefulness, that they are willing to help me succeed. When this happens, it’s magical.
I never feel defensive when my friends tell me I didn’t do ‘well’ (hat tip to Professor Marcus Stewart) enough. I feel energized that I need to do better. When they tell me I’m brilliant, I walk around on a cloud all day, because I know I was truly brilliant in that moment. They wouldn’t tell me otherwise. I trust that.
That’s why feedback sucks in the corporate world. Competition and lack of trust. You and your boss and your peers are in a competition with each other. You are all competing to reach the next level, many times at the sacrifice of one another. That’s why you never truly believe the feedback you’re getting. It might be buried way deep down, but it’s there, a lack of trust that they really want to see you ‘fully’ succeed. Succeed so much, you might take their job, or rise above them.
Feedback is different when your only intent is that you truly wish the greatest success possible for the person you are delivering it to, and they trust that it is the case.
Just a little something to strive for today, leaders.
Let’s not be too sweeping in saying that feedback in the corporate environment lacks value. Most of us are not ill-intentioned, and we use feedback mechanisms much more to recognize others and thank them than we do to criticize people. Public feedback (badges or stars) can also identify go-to resources and experts. Even if the feedback does come from a competitor trying to damage you, it is better that you know what they are saying about you then them spreading poison privately.
…when my friends tell me I didn’t do “well” enough… ; ) You’re all that, Timothy W!
Case in point! Prof. Marcus Stewart once again grading my homework!
“Good enough” sounds better than “well enough” to my ear. When I write, I’m just typing what I’m telling myself in my head. So, ‘well’ never sounds right! Why is that? Don’t answer that, Marcus!