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Feedback - Friend or Foe?

Updated: May 3, 2020

The challenging thing about receiving feedback in a professional environment is that it can be tough not to take 'negative' feedback personally. If you’re a perfectionist, hearing that you could have done something better could potentially feel fatal.

The challenging thing about giving feedback in a professional environment is that it’s often tricky to word the ‘tough stuff’ in the way that it’s intended. What if you step on someone’s toes or (goodness, let's hope not) make someone cry?

In this blog, I'm going to tackle both HOW and WHY we encourage teams to create room for consistent feedback loops. We, as the Kaleidoscope team, believe that receiving and giving feedback is the cornerstone for building our unique and collaborative skillsets.

As a word of 'warning' before you read any further - this blog was developed for open-minded leaders and team members. The approach we adopt for feedback loops is that they need to include EVERYONE in your organisation. Feedback should be regular, transparent and structured with the purpose of driving learning, performance and growth for both the organisation AND the individual.

Self-realisation does not exclude anyone. There is nobody, no role, no senior, no junior, no company ... that can't improve in one avenue or another. Sorry - not sorry.

The Personal Development Angle

As people, we're often quick to notice what's wrong, instead of what's right. But, fostering a culture where team members can both encourage each other and challenge each other enables self-development to a brilliant degree. It also guarantees happy, smiley cheeks where positive aspects are concerned - and who doesn't like a confidence boost?

Most importantly, feedback will (pretty much always) give you a clearer understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, especially from another's perspective. You can then check-in with yourself and ask if that's the way you'd like to be seen, heard or understood.

While conversations like - "what you're wearing to the office today may not be appropriate" - are probably best left for a private discussion, hearing open feedback like - "you're really great at designing our presentations, but when you're speaking, you could maybe speak at a slower pace" - contributes to self-awareness, coupled with an opportunity for improvement.

It's important to note that sessions like these should never ever be personal in the sense that they lead to discussions like - "your hair colour doesn't suit you" - but a pointed - "sometimes, when you're not in the best mood, it impacts the environment around you" - may perhaps be something that the team member wasn't aware of, and knowing this could help them to be more conscious (and happily impact the team as a result).

The Professional Development Angle

You'll generate more holistic and long-term learning by asking your team questions that stimulate reflection - and then sharing these insights with your entire team. Encouraging your team to explore and experiment enables them to understand that there is no such thing as 'failure' - only opportunity for development.

In the wise words of Oprah Winfrey, "there is no such thing as failure, failure is just life trying to move us in another direction."

Having open discussions with everyone also reduces the risk of error as a result of miscommunication (and saves time). Organisations led by real conversations are, in our experience, much more agile because they're able to operate with the voices of their team members driving internal culture. In time, feedback sessions should naturally become a way of work.

And, what's more? Your team will look forward to these sessions. You'll have invite acceptance notifications coming in from left, right and centre.

The Empathy Angle

Giving and receiving feedback are platforms for building empathy.

Firstly, how are you going to deliver feedback to someone so that your words come from a place of understanding?

Secondly, although you may not agree with feedback you receive, how do you listen to what another person has said and turn it into a learning for yourself?

Empathy, arguably, is one of the most essential ingredients for great leadership. Leaders need to be involved in feedback loops - and accept feedback (good and bad) from their team members. If you expect your team to learn and evolve through feedback, then so should you. None of us can escape reality, no matter how senior or junior we may be!

Does this mean to say that you should take every piece of feedback onboard? No, absolutely not. There are always three sides to every story, or so the old tale goes. A team member may give you feedback on something that they don't have complete visibility over, and that feedback may then not seem as applicable. However, there is always something to learn - for example, could you have communicated or behaved differently to provide that team member with more insight?

Picking and choosing the feedback you do and don't absorb can be tricky, but it gets easier the more you open yourself up to truly listening to what others have to offer you in terms of personal insight.

Alright, feedback time?!

Although this entire blog has, let's face it, been nothing short of an advocation for feedback - it is still a sensitive practice. And, as is with anything new, you have to do it again and again until it becomes a part of your organisational norm.

We'd recommend that you get in touch with us so that we can explore and build out the following elements for your team and the unique personalities who'll be in the room:

  1. Session construct

  2. Feedback frequency plan

  3. Questions for growth and understanding

  4. How we give feedback

  5. How we receive feedback

  6. Tools that will enable feedback to be light-hearted (yet tangible and real)

  7. How we save / build from feedback

However, if you'd like to practice on yourself:

  1. Grab yourself 3 uniquely coloured sticky packs (green, yellow and red).

  2. Time yourself for 2 minutes - with one idea per sticky, write out what you feel you're GREAT at on the green stickies.

  3. Okay, stick them up (on glass, or on a table top) and take a few moments to acknowledge them.

  4. Time yourself for 2 minutes - with one idea per sticky, write out what you feel you're AVERAGE at on the yellow stickies.

  5. Okay, stick them up (on glass, or on a table top) and take a few moments to acknowledge them.

  6. Time yourself for a final 2 minutes - with one idea per sticky, write out what you feel you could DO BETTER / IMPROVE ON on the red stickies.

  7. Okay, stick them up (on glass, or on a table top) and take a few moments to acknowledge them.

  8. Let it all sink in and endeavour to remind yourself of these aspects in your daily practices - there is always room for improvement, and self-realisation is the strongest tool out there (and, guess what? It's FREE)!

  9. Repeat this each month - #growthroughwhatyougothrough.



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