“Everybody needs feedback” (Doug Lowenstein), “feedback is the breakfast of champions” (Ken Blanchard), “the road to self-insight runs through other people” (David Dunning). These are all feedback platitudes that see us nodding along in emphatic agreement…so why does feedback remain such an underused tool? When it comes to feedback why are we still not giving, and getting, enough?
Firstly we may not have developed the right feedback mindset - many people have come to fear feedback and to therefore dread rather than welcome the phrase “can I give you some feedback?” This is understandable when many organisations have fallen into the habit of delivering what is in fact criticism, dressed up as “feedback”. The first step to getting into the right feedback mindset is therefore for us and our organisations to focus on what real feedback actually is. True feedback is positive and emphasises strengths at least as often as it focuses on weaknesses. Even when it does focus on weaknesses, true feedback delivers critique rather than criticism, and shows a clear path for improvement. Put like that, who wouldn’t want to give and receive more?
Secondly, despite feedback being such a powerful tool - for both people management and self development - the chances are we have never been trained how to use it. How much more confident would we be about giving quality feedback if we had positive feedback language and powerful feedback models in our “manager’s toolkit”? How much more open would we be to receiving and valuing feedback ourselves if we had learned how to use it to optimise our own performance to our personal advantage?
So if we don’t want to miss out on the benefits of one of the most powerful development tools, it is time that we get real about what feedback is, get educated on how to give and receive it, and get serious about giving and getting enough.
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