Updated: Nov 6, 2020
In my research about why people are so reluctant to give feedback, the most obvious factor that people suggest is time. We don’t have time to schedule feedback meetings. What is interesting is that further investigation shows that time is not a real problem when there is trust, openness, and shared commitment to a common goal. Leaders who have these in place can exchange great feedback in a 30-second hallway conversation.
Another factor that is often suggested is culture. People may say, “some of our upper managers never give feedback so it’s not really encouraged here.” While there is something to this argument, it is small in comparison to other factors. Why? Because even though a company culture doesn’t promote feedback, great leaders who do it anyway are never dinged for exchanging feedback with their team members. In fact, when they do it, it can be contagious and even admired by upper management, when they see business goals being reached faster that way.
A major showstopper for most leaders is in the beliefs and assumptions we carry around. Some of these include:
Analyzer—Organized and observant; values data over emotion
Empathizer—Encouraging & helpful; views corrective feedback as hurtful
Charger—Fast paced & results-oriented; sees coaching as inefficient
Motivator—Visionary team cheerleader; chooses team versus individual conversations
And finally, THE biggest showstopper is the emotional part of your brain that has feedback associated with pain and fear. When it’s time to give feedback, fight or flight hormones are released and begin swishing around and blocking your logical abilities. For most people, both the giving and receiving of feedback triggers the emotional brain’s response.
When these bigger barriers—beliefs and brain chemicals are addressed—and the good news is that they CAN be addressed, the time and culture issues drop off the table.
If you’re so curious you can’t stand it, I will email you the two chapters of The Feedback Imperative that deals with these problems, Chapter 3: Skills, Support, Beliefs, and Brain Science and Chapter 4: Update Your Beliefs. If you would like to read the whole book, it’s available now at amazon.com.