Building value through authentic feedback

FeedbackThe good folks over at Rypple recently wrote a blog titled Recognition only works when it’s authentic. I feel like they must have been reading my mind, because I was pondering the importance of authentic feedback around the same time as the blog was posted by Alanah Throop.

Recently a co-worker took issue with how I was handling an aspect of my job. However, instead of sharing the feedback directly with me, he chose to raise his concerns with my boss.

My boss and I have an open and honest relationship, so a short chat was all that was necessary to ensure that we were on the same page for resolving the issue. But the co-worker, who holds a leadership position on this project, has yet to approach me with the same feedback. This is a problem and I will explain why.

The nature of the concern was that I was less invested in his/her project than I was in projects under my leadership. While this may or may not be the case, it is difficult to fully commit to a leader who is unable to share specific and authentic feedback, especially when the feedback could benefit and strengthen the team as a whole.

Firstly, there is the trust issue because the feedback was not provided in an open and constructive manner. By providing feedback covertly to my boss it automatically triggers the mind to believe it was done maliciously. I will never know whether the intent of the feedback was malicious or constructive, but without trust, teamwork becomes increasingly difficult and the success of the resulting projects suffer as a result.

The second issue is what I like to call lead-by-example. By regularly sharing feedback publicly and openly within a team an environment is created where all participants will feel comfortable voicing their opinions. This is why it is important to schedule regular group feedback sessions to tackle any issues before they spin out of control and become increasingly difficult to manage.

The second point is easier said than done. We often find ourselves too busy in our day-to-day routine to take the time to provide feedback to our teammates. Consider myself a guilty party, too.

Daily feedback may be asking a bit much, but it is important to aim for regular rounds of feedback, not simply during an annual review. By then, most feedback is too late or too distant to have a strong impact.

Returning to my personal experience, I do not lay fault with my co-worker for not providing the feedback directly to me. But at the time, I sent an e-mail suggesting I would be open to chat. I was disappointed by the response I received: “I already assumed I could but thank you for clarifying.”

Providing feedback and especially meaningful feedback is not easy. It takes time to build relationships where both parties feel comfortable in the exchange of feedback. This is why communication is so important in the workplace and one of the more difficult skills for a leader to develop.

But as a leader, the onus is upon you to take the initiative to provide feedback to the people around you. While it may not be easy at first, it will become easier over time and the team will be that much stronger because of it.

In closing, I should add that last week Noah Goldstein posted a blog about the importance of showing appreciation which goes hand-in-hand with providing authentic feedback. Make sure to take a few minutes today to thank the people around you who have helped you achieve your goals, because surely no one succeeds solely by them self.

Lessons Learned:

  • Developing trust is an important foundation for building teams. This happens when team members are able to openly share feedback with each other.
  • Good feedback should be timely and authentic.
  • As a leader, providing regular feedback will help you develop this skill over time.

About Jaime Stein

Jaime is the Senior Manager, Social Media at Hootsuite. He is a digital marketer with expertise in social media and content marketing. His experience stems from leading the social media strategy for two national brands. Jaime holds an MBA with a focus in Marketing and Strategy from the Rotman School of Management where he was selected valedictorian by the students of the Morning MBA Class of 2011. He is the former radio voice of the Toronto Argonauts and currently lives in Vancouver with his wife and two sons.
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3 Responses to Building value through authentic feedback

  1. Mihnea G. says:

    Thank you Jaime! 🙂
    I think that there are still people out there who are uncomfortable with reacting to direct feedback, they either take it the wrong way or they feel like who are you to give me feedback anyways. So the issue is two fold. But you are right, an open discussion is the best way to deal with any situation rather than going through intermediaries.
    What’s needed is that at the beginning of any relationship the expectations are set on both sides.

  2. Thanks for the awesome post Jaime, and the personal shout out at the top!

    I am glad that my post inspired you to write this because this message needs to be heard by all. You are hitting on some very key points. Trust. That’s a big word and it’s hard to gain but too easy to lose. However, it is the foundation to any healthy and productive work environment. Continuous, ongoing feedback will only work with trust – you pointed out a prime example of what happens with feedback when there is no trust. Who knows where it’s coming from? Or maybe there is a different meaning behind the words being spoken.

    This was my favourite thing that you said:
    “This is why it is important to schedule regular group feedback sessions to tackle any issues before they spin out of control and become increasingly difficult to manage.”

    Feedback doesn’t have to happen everyday, in fact it shouldn’t. It’s not something you should have to force out or search for something to say. If you have something to say, say it that day, don’t put it on the shelf for later.

    Thanks again for this awesome post Jaime!

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