There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. ~ Shakespeare
Radical candor doesn’t help employees thrive and telling employees how to improve hinders learning. This is what authors Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall report in their recently published article, “The Feedback Fallacy.” (Harvard Business Review)
- People cannot reliably rate the performance of others.
- Criticism provokes the brain’s “flight or fight” response.
- Excellence is idiosyncratic.
Indeed, as noted by the authors:
If we continue to spend our time identifying failure as we see it and giving people feedback about how to avoid it, we’ll languish in the business of adequacy.
To avoid this trap and get into the “excellence business” the authors recommend highlighting patterns of excellence that exist in all of our staff so they can “recognize it, anchor it, re-create it, and refine it.”
Here, for example, courtesy of the article, are some helpful ways to change your language when interacting with staff:
Instead of: Can I give you some feedback?
Try: Here’s my reaction.
Instead of: Good job!
Try: Here are three things that really worked for me. What was going through your mind when you did them?
Instead of: Here’s what you should do.
Try: Here is what I would do.
The same type of thinking works in reverse. If for example a supervisor lets you know you did a good job, take the time to find out what exactly worked well for her.
Now, some might read this article as being against providing feedback. I didn’t take it that way. Instead the message I got was that feedback rarely does what it’s meant to. From the article:
We excel only when people who know us and care about us tell us what they experience and what they feel, and in particular when they see something within us that really works.
Certainly something to consider during your next 121 or review.
On that note, time for me to check out and leave you with some music for our Manufacturing Peace of Mind™ Spotify playlist. Here then is the ever awesome Ray LaMontagne with his song “Such a Simple Thing.”
Tell me what your heart wants
Such a simple thing
My heart is like paper
Yours is like a flame
Such a good song.
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Having said that, I am interested to hear from you. Good, bad, or otherwise, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m the only person who will read your email and, as time allows, I’ll do my best, at a minimum, to personally acknowledge receipt.