As leaders we are in the position of giving and receiving feedback on a regular basis.  It should not be relegated to a twice-yearly or yearly event only to be performed when the "do it now" notation comes out. 

Feedback should not be  given or received with angst, dread or anger and yet it often is.  The main causes of this are:
  1. Feedback speaks for others as in “they don't like you, they feel uncomfortable around you ".  This isn't effective feedback and leads to alienation.  If specific behaviors are not identified and this generalization is used as feedback, it leads to a type of sanctioned discrimination which is not where any of us want to go. 
  2. Feedback contains an implied threat. This is when it is implied that someone's job is in jeopardy and doesn't reinforce good behavior or illustrate bad behavior.  It simply creates animosity.  

These are  pitfalls in feedback that we just plain want to avoid.  How on earth could this be constructive?  It can't be. And it speaks to some dandy organizational problems.

So, how to do it right? Trust and respect. Feedback should not be in judgemental terms and yet is often is.  For example, “leadership just doesn't like you" - whoa! Need to take a step back and look at that.  You are sending a strong message that whatever has been accomplished  (or ever will be)is diminished in the eyes of leadership.  That is a harsh reality for an employee to handle. And it leads to bookmarking job hunting sites to say the least, to leave a futile work relationship. 

Meanwhile, you will have lost the value that the employee brought. Feedback, like discipline should be constructive and corrective. It needs to be based on solid performance and and not lead to what becomes a personal attack.  The energy spent defending this type of attack defeats any hope of a useful feedback conversation. 

After all, if you only want to work with dancing poodles, and you can't see the value in sight hounds and retrievers, only hire dancing poodles and be upfront about it to start with. Build your feedback to foster trust and respect, and make it real. 



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