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The Gift of Feedback

After 5 years of assisting numerous family-owned as well as public-listed clients to embed their values in organizational culture, we became big believers of 'feedback' as the most critical process and tool that really works but is yet undervalued.

Executive Boards that succeed in establishing continual feedback as a habit throughout their management levels will not only succeed in strengthening the culture they desire but install a formidable process for continual leadership development and higher performance as a result.

Although this seems common sense, it is not common practice at all. Not only are managers reluctant to provide feedback, they too often lack the skills to do it in a constructive way.

Regardless of culture and level, we have observed that the most common mistakes made are:

  • Not relating the feedback to a specific context, observable behavior and impact (result) on self and organization (CORE observations)

  • Sharing the feedback as a negative event rather than expressing the intent to help and assist the leadership development and overall performance of the team

  • Judging people rather than sharing factual observations

  • Not keeping personal emotions under control

  • Applying a 'telling' rather than 'coaching' communication style to gain commitment for change in behavior and performance

  • Not providing feedback 'timely'

  • Not being open for feedback in return

One of the fundamental starting points of providing constructive feedback is to identify the 'CORE' issues (behaviors) we are providing feedback on: Describing the Context (the 'when and where'), sharing Observable (factual) behaviors and relating this to the impact (REsult) this has on ourselves, the team or the organization at large. Preparing these CORE observations prior to the feedback conversation is time well vested and will facilitate a successful outcome.

Feedback is a true gift to ourselves and the organization as it helps us become aware of our "unknown self' and if done professionally builds trust, respect and strengthens performance.

Embedding feedback as a habit throughout the organization also induces an internal driven process of continual evaluation, learning and development, resulting in a formidable competitive advantage.

If one had to pick one leadership development program to be sustained under budget reduction and cost pressure, we would advocate that providing your management team the 'gift of feedback' will undoubtedly get you the best return on investment ...

Last but not last, rather than 'fixing' the feedback gap, why don't we also more often screen new hires for their feedback skills and mind agility to accept and learn from feedback provided?

One could argue that new hires that have been exposed to feedback culture and embrace it with an agile mind, will not only 'fit' faster but become catalysts of change and performance for the entire team.

Quoting Ken Blanchard: "Feedback is the breakfast of champions"!

Happy leadership reflections,

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