Sunday, December 8, 2013


  I often study how different companies show themselves to public, how they promote themselves to position as top employer brands. Nowadays almost every important company is interested on being a desirable place to work, and this is a step forward. We are committed to create confortable environments with our workplaces, we want our employees to be happy, engaged and proud of working where they are working. As I said, this is something good and brings important value and return to the companies, but sometimes this could end up being only a beautifully tailored cover of underlying communication problems inside teams that lead to unsolved discrepancies, threats and fears. I know, that escalated quickly.

  Hence, a good way of taking a holistic and complete care of the workplace (defined as a place where people work together) is working on your internal cross level and peer communication. This grows horizontality and increases trust. If you really promote a place where anyone from the janitor to the CEO can ask or be asked, you are creating a safe environment where ideas matter. But today I'm not talking on the benefits of feedback, which are widely described everywhere. Today I am stepping on the form of giving and receiving feedback.

  First let me introduce you to the genesis: Socrates. Socrates was a man who embraced dialogue as a form of improvement between his pupils and himself, even when it was hard taking.

"One who is injured ought not to return the injury, for on no account can it be right to do an injustice; and it is not right to return an injury, or to do evil to any man, however much we have suffered from him."

  Let me use this way of thinking to state Socrates defined what is the right attitude when receiving feedback: Calmly contained.

The Death of Socrates - Jaques-Louis David / Metropolitan Museum of Art NY

First rule: feedback is a two way road. If you can be a giver you have to be prepared to be a receiver too.

How to receive feedback and what to demand from feedback giver

  Make sure you understand what is all about, ask for directions if necessary, it has to be clear and relevant and you are on your right to ask for further clarification. Don't be sassy, the person who is giving feedback is making an effort for you to improve, you have to appreciate that in the first place.

  Do not respond immediately, do not confront, don't be deffensive. Take your time to take this feedback and if you want to respond later or explain yourself, do it, but what's important here is taking your time to elaborate what has been said to you.

  Respond with empathy. Try to understand where does this come from and who is saying what to you.

  Learn from your worst detractors. Even when you think what has been said to you is a nonsense, irrelevant or something out of point, make the exercise of taking it for evaluation and reflection. Feedback can have multiple purposes, sometimes even mean ones, but there is always a little part of truth in every kind of them, and, as Socrates said, you are the only responsible of learning something from whatever comes to you.

  Thank, even when thanking is hard, tough, breathtaking, mixed with anger... but do it. Express gratitude for the effort of standing by you giving you feedback.

The formation of constructive feedback

  Before giving feedback think why you are giving it, take it into a positive thinking or state of mind. You want to give feedback because you want somebody to improve so you both can have a benefit from this. If you are not thinking in terms of building something together, forget about it, you better save your feedback or even better: think again, because you are not doing it right.

  Align. Talk about what you have in common and why is this important to both of you.

  Feedback has to be immediate, but it has to be well formed. Before giving it think on the suggestion you are giving first.

  Focus, limit your feedback, keep it specific.

  Acclaim the good first, there is always a good side, something well done, extol so you can introduce the suggestion later and ease the way the other person takes it.

  Talk about you, your honest feelings, in which position left you what you are pointing.

Follow Up

  When you give a feedback you commit to this person to build a better something together. If you see improvement you need to return this too. A feedback is not complete without a return, it is a multiple round practice.

  When you introduce feedback in your workplace as common language and do it the right way, you will realize it is the most powerful tool to personal development. From my point of view feedback is the number one practice to work on every team, invest in teaching how to use it effectively and promote its use constantly.

  A good way of doing this is sharing best practices on feedback, save a moment in which teammates share how somebody's feedback has done good to them. Save a moment to thank. Treat feedback as what it is: a gift.

Written listening to "David Byrne and Brian Eno - Everything that Happens will Happen Today" album (Rate:8,5/10)

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