In order to be great at what we do, we need to know how we’re doing. What’s already working? How can we improve?
This simple idea, get a response to how things are going so I can make adjustments, has grown so complicated that it spurs dozens of articles and books every year.
I remembered that the latest issue of Harvard Business Review has a cover story about feedback, so I Googled “HBR feedback” just to get a quick look at how much is out there from that one source. I was struck by this visual:
So depending on what HBR article your boss happens to read, you might get more negative feedback, or less, or maybe they’ll be wondering how you’re rationalizing the negative feedback you got, or, or, or…
Let’s go back to the original premise: get a response to how things are going so I can make adjustments. If you’re the giver of feedback, it’s worth thinking long and hard about intention before you say anything. “What do I want the outcome of this conversation to be? How do I want this person to feel about what I have to say?” If you want them to be able to hear you, to see you as someone who is invested in their development, that’s going to give the feedback a different flavor than if you want them to straighten up, to get their act together.
Maybe we don’t need 6,660,000 articles instructing us in the finer points of feedback. If you can position yourself as the ally of the person you’re talking to, that simple action goes a long way.