When I received some negative feedback from an assignment I worked on I felt like I had a dog shaming sign tied around my neck with a piece of grocery string. It took me some time to come to terms with the fact that sometimes feedback just isn't fair, it can be very subjectively based on a whole lot of things we don't have control over that the feedback giver is dealing with. When there is no dialogue, no explanation, no followup it's a recipe for disengagement and broken trust.
What I learned from this experience is to stop straining against the imaginary sign tied around my neck and build some positive steps moving foward, and to ensure that when I am a giver of feedback, I keep it real. And of course, to anticipate the outcome if I do eat all the crayons.
- Be specific about your feedback. Remembering that feedback is a very personal form of criticism, constructive or otherwise.
- Don't make the feedback be about the person, it is about the behavior. Focus on the behavior. Explain what you are talking about. Vagueness is good for misty photos, not feedback sessions.
- Don't use the feedback sandwich. Telling the receiver the good, the bad and then finishing off with the good. This is a strategy to make the giver feel good, but leaves the receiver with bad taste from the sandwich like a piece of expired luncheon meat. (Also known as the sh*t sandwich.)
- Feedback does not need to be positive, but truthful. Trust is the most essential part of the feedback giver and reciever dance.
- Leave the shaming to paper signs that dogs can't read anyway, and use feedback as an opportunity for growth and development as it's meant to be. Then follow up to ensure positive steps are taken and don't resort to signs scrawled and tied around the necks of resources too valuable for the organization to lose.