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Fascinating Dinner Party Topic: Feedback in the Workplace!

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

Ask people what they think about feedback in their workplace. Here are a few questions you can ask to get the conversation started. How does feedback work in your work setting? Does your manager give you feedback? Do you give feedback to your manager and co-workers? Do you avoid giving feedback or is it comfortable for you?

I’ve done this at a half dozen dinners recently and, wow, it brings up a lot of emotions quickly! Even the shyest attendees can’t help but get involved.

One friend, who’s obviously been on the painful end of overly-critical bosses, felt that managers should not give anyone feedback because “they are not qualified to give it!” I couldn’t help but wonder who she thought should be giving feedback. Hello! Feedback is a top responsibility of every manager!

Another friend who is a professor told me that feedback is rarely helpful because people are simply not good at certain things and they can’t change. “It’s better to move them into a different role and get a person who’s naturally good at what you need.” Avoiding giving feedback to a colleague or employee is depriving them of a chance to grow, learn and develop. My suggestion to the professor would be to give the feedback and open up the opportunity for that person to improve. Don’t predetermine that an employee is unfit to learn new skills.

Most people cite examples of toxic bosses who deny people feedback and then years later become enraged or fire people over a small matter. My take: Approaching a toxic boss can be intimidating, but the sooner you ask for feedback and open the doors of communication with your employer, the more likely your chances of breaking down the barrier of avoidance.

A large percentage of my dinner guests viewed themselves as bad at giving feedback that helps people grow and improve, but everyone was eager to get better at it. The exceptions are people in their twenties and early thirties, who are themselves managers or colleagues, love the way they use feedback positively in their group.

Millennials are eager to get lots of feedback, and if their manager doesn’t provide it, they ask for it–early and often. I am surprised at how often their views of feedback aren’t tied up with formal hierarchy.

If you bring up this topic at your next dinner, no one will need coffee...

The Feedback Imperative book

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Read The Feedback Imperative for more information on how to give great feedback!

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