The topic of giving feedback can be quite a sensitive one. I have worked in businesses where a coworker would become quite upset if they received less than perfect feedback, where you wouldn’t dare give your boss feedback unless asked. Every work environment is different and so is every leader and coworker.
Take Mark Zuckerberg for example. In Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, she recounts a story about how a summer intern at Facebook told Zuckerberg that he should work on his public speaking skills. Instead of being offended, Zuckerberg hired him for a full-time position immediately. He could see how this advice was not an attack on him, but positive advice to help him grow as a leader and CEO.
By giving feedback to your boss, you are giving a powerful gift. But that may not be how they receive it. Many bosses don’t receive much feedback, and some don’t how to receive it. The same goes for communicating with other employees and coworkers. People can be highly defensive and not want to take advice from anyone including their boss. Some people are just wired this way. Assessment solutions can help organizations identify these innate traits in people. They measure things like openness, manageability, independence, willingness to trust, and also compatibility between team members. Understanding behavioral characteristics dramatically increases an organizations ability to develop and manage effectively.
Feedback among employees is priceless. Do you think companies like Facebook would have had such outstanding success without feedback from staff members?
Here are some dos and don’ts for giving feedback and effective communication to your boss and colleagues:
Don’t ambush your boss – You don’t know what is on his or her mind at every moment, so grabbing them in the break room is a little inappropriate. Schedule time for a quality discussion.
Do be open and honest – Your boss may ask you a question in front of your entire team that you are not prepared to answer. Some of us brush it off, and some of us become offended. Later, make sure to speak privately to your boss about how it made you feel uneasy. Tapping into the emotional impact they had on you can be very powerful. If you were affected by it, and leave it alone, you may begin to resent your boss and in turn, your job. If you think a colleague spoke inappropriately to you, let them know. They may not even realize. Also, if you want something, ask.
Be professional at all times – This should be a given in the workplace, but at times, people need a reminder. Pay attention to how you’re speaking and with whom. You may speak differently to a coworker, than you would to your boss. Always be professional, courteous, and polite regardless of the topic of discussion.
Offer feedback and opinions – Most of us want to be our best right? Most of us spend more time in work than we do at home, so it’s likely that your co-workers know you pretty well. Where appropriate, offer each other advice. It’s about how you phrase your words! Apple has been all over the news since 2012, with the launch of their “Genius Training Student Workbook.” In the workbook, employees learn to share an “open dialogue every day,” with “positive intent.” Staff are encouraged to give each other constructive feedback so that together, they can be the most efficient team possible.
Understand not everyone will take your feedback and accept it! – In spite of your best efforts, some people may not be very good at accepting feedback. We have all likely run into this before. Don’t give up, keep looking for other ways to get your message across. When people jump into the defensive mode, either you or they (or both) need to look for another way to have this conversation.
Finally, don’t avoid difficult conversations – Read: Your Difficult Conversation Survival Guide. Taking the time to focus on giving feedback and effective communication will work wonders in your business! Tony Robbins once said, “To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”