They say it’s better to give than receive, but with feedback, I disagree. Listen, it can be uncomfortable to give and to receive improvement opportunities, but last week I got some feedback right between the eyes (actually the lips), and it was a total gift.
Thing is, I don’t think I have received feedback in a long time. And the feedback I got was NOT easy (especially because I’m the boss). But it has literally made every day better since I received it.
Here it is: I scowl in meetings. Apparently there’s a duck-like lip-pursing thing I do that makes people uncomfortable. They see the face and take it as a signal that I’m getting impatient and pissed off. (Side note: There’s a picture hanging in my bathroom of my family taken in Italy where I”m making this face. Nope, not loving that! But it does help me remember to fix it several times a day!)
Truth: They’re not wrong. I have the patience level of a toddler who wants a cookie. It’s hard-coded and constantly pushing me to do, type, speak, and yes, meet faster. I literally have to leave calls with vendors who can’t get to the point because I want to lean through zoom and choke them. It makes my team uncomfortable.
So back to the feedback: You’re scaring your team and your family, try a smile. Note taken.
Here’s the gift: Now, during every meeting, I consciously think about how the other person is feeling. I wonder how I can help make them more comfortable, feel more confident they’re on the right track, and happier to collaborate. Somehow the magical feedback I received is making me better at asking questions instead of rushing to talk. So a week in, I’m a better coach and a better boss (and hopefully a better mom and wife, too). This has all led me to three “ah-has” worth sharing:
Share your feedback. This insight was so powerful that I shared it with others. “I got some great feedback!” I tell my team (as they try not to roll their eyes and say, “Yeah, we KNOW you do!”) It led to great conversations. They know my intent, I show some vulnerability, we all align on the desire to feel valued, heard and respected. Bonus: As leaders we role model the importance of giving and accepting feedback.
Sharing feedback you received with others is a triple win.
Ask regularly for feedback. I’ve made a note in all of my 1:1 folders to ask for their feedback regularly. Now this can be intentional, build a habit and culture, (and not always be related to my duck lips).
Be specific. I admit, I’ve stolen this tip from #GirlsClub VP Angela Salazar: make your requests specific and encouraging. Which statement below is better:
Do you have any feedback on my performance?
I’d love to get better at presenting demos. Would you please spend a few minutes thinking about 2-3 areas I could really work on to make my demos better? I especially want to improve my openings.
Like we said before, sometimes giving feedback is hard for managers (hand raise here!). Notice how the second statement makes her seem like she is truly craving feedback to help her improve? We asked for a few things, we gave a target area, we showed a true desire to learn and be better. That’s welcoming feedback!
Use these three tips to give and receive this month. Here’s hoping you learn something fabulous!