Type “how dare you” into Google and the top of the page reads, “used to express indignation. ex: ‘how dare you talk to me like that!’” Unfortunately, this also sounds like a feared response to workplace feedback. What if we look at this phrase a different way? Let’s say I have information that could help you be more productive or more profitable in your position, but I choose to keep that information to myself. Might you say, “How dare you not talk to me?” And rightfully so!
It’s time to change the way we think about feedback, as both givers and receivers, because organizations that have ingrained effective feedback into their cultures have higher levels of innovation, performance, engagement, and retention. So, how do we remove the fear of feedback and embrace the opportunity to reach elite levels? The first step is changing the idea behind the word itself. Inherent in the name is the concept of the past, looking back. It is only useful to look back if it helps us to move forward. So, start thinking about feedback as providing (or receiving) information with the intent to help move forward. If the information won’t help an employee move forward in a positive direction, then it’s not effective feedback and you should consider whether it really needs to be shared.
The second step is choosing words and observations wisely, such that you are addressing a behavior that can be changed or improved, and not issuing judgment statements about a person. Separating the issue from the person can reduce negative reactions to the information. The third step is engaging in active listening. As the receiver of the information, listen for the actionable items that will help you improve your performance. If Step 1 is successful, you can trust that the information is being provided with positive intent. And as the giver of the information, listen and learn from the receiver’s perspective and experience.
These three steps are a good start to changing the culture of feedback in your organization. But providing effective feedback is a skill, and like all skills, requires practice. And many times, formal training is necessary to kickstart this feedback culture change. Lucky for you, we do that at Purple Ink! If you’re interested, reach out to me, I’d love to chat! And don’t waste time, because guess what? Your employees actually do want feedback, so how dare you not provide it?