Rethinking Feedback Processes


Feedback Really Can Be a Gift

“Do you have a minute, I’d like to give you some feedback?”

The phrase that strikes fear in a professional’s heart. As your mind races you wonder silently, is this good or bad?  

Feedback crept into workplace vocabulary after World War II and was used in talking about performance management, specifically corrective action. Research by Stone & Heen gives us current insight into feedback from both sides of the desk. 

Fifty-one percent of workers said their performance review was unfair or inaccurate. Twenty-five percent dread their performance review more than anything else at work. Sixty-three percent of executives said their biggest challenge in performance management is that managers lack the courage and ability to deliver challenging feedback.

Stone & Heen have captured the spirit of both workers and managers by summing it all up. “Is it possible that feedback is like a gift and like a colonoscopy? We are torn.”

Ultimately, the receiver is in control of what feedback they believe, and what they take action on. Receivers are prone to discount feedback they view as wrong or unhelpful, can’t accept from the giver, or that threatens their identity.  This can present a pretty large canvas of feedback that is not being considered by the receiver. We are simply wired to protect ourselves.

Is it possible to step over this mess?

Marshall Goldsmith turned this notion of feedback upside down by recognizing that successful leaders are energized by understanding how they can be MORE successful in the FUTURE. It is too late to recreate a better past. Right now, in this moment, we have the opportunity to create a better future. What can you do more of – or do differently in the future – to be more successful? That positive vision of the future is inspiring. It draws us in, it is an invitation for positive change.

As a coach, I work with leaders to access their feed forward through the Shift Positive 360® process. I am always amazed at the flame that ignites each time I talk with leaders about their ability to be more successful in the future, and concrete steps they can take to do so. Learn from the past, be inspired by a more successful future, and the knowledge of how to get there. Energizing and truly a gift!

Stone, D. & Heen, S (2014) Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well
Goldsmith, M. (2007) What Got You Here Won’t Get You There