I said this before, but you don’t want to hear it. No one cares about what you have to say, unless it’s telling them how good they are.
People can’t handle critical feedback, unless it’s set up in a mechanism where they expect it and desire it. That’s the crux, hardly anyone has that mechanism and while most people tell you they want critical feedback they don’t have the makeup to handle it.
Here are the types of “critical” feedback people can handle:
“You’re doing a good job, would love it if you could get that big project off the ground. That would really help us out!”
Here’s what you really want to say, critically, but can’t:
“You do good at things I tell you to do, and all basic day to day duties of the job. I need more from this position and from you, and I’m willing to help get you there. I need someone who can take a project from scratch and kill it, without me having to babysit the entire thing. You’re not doing that, and that’s what I really need you to do. Are you willing do that?”
Same message, right? You do some stuff good, but one critical aspect of the job is not getting done. The problem is, the first level feedback is given 99.9% of the time, because managers and leaders know if you deliver the second level, that person will be destroyed!
They’ll think you think they suck, and they’ll start looking for a job. When in reality, you were just trying to give them legitimate feedback. Real feedback. Something that would actually help them reach expectations.
So, how do you get to a point to be able to deliver ‘real’ feedback?
It’s starts with your hiring process. In the interview process you need to set people up to understand that your organization delivers real feedback, and they must be able to accept critical feedback and not crumble. This is a team, it’s about getting better, not hurt egos. Half will crumble in the interview, which is a good thing, you don’t want them anyway.
For those that you think have the self-insight enough to handle it, you need to do it before hire. Give them the real feedback from their interview, and see how they reply, how they interact. This will show you what you can expect from them when they get this level of feedback as an employee.
For the employees already working, you need to start by showing them and giving them examples of what true feedback looks like. You need to coach and train your leaders on how to deliver this, on an ongoing basis. You then need to have coaches and mentors sit in with all leaders when they begin to deliver this feedback.
Part of your leader training is to show them how to accept feedback from their teams as well. If you want to dish it out, you have to accept it as well. Training and coaching employees on how to ‘manage up’ is key to making this successful. This isn’t about blowing people up. It’s about delivering true feedback to help them get better, and person accepting and receiving this information under that assumption. We want you to be the best you, you can be.
All this takes work and time. The organizations that can do this win the culture war, because all the people working for you will know they won’t get this anywhere else!