In an environment where employers are trying to attract talent with a variety of perks, why are so many employees ignoring one of the best benefits they have available? Why do employers and managers at all levels so often fail here? What sets aside great bosses from mediocre? It rarely has to do with the total compensation package since you and I can both think of jobs we have worked for less pay and yet valued the experience far more than a higher paying job.
At a certain point financial compensation actually drops in value when it comes to job satisfaction. You can research at what compensation level that is for your industry and certainly argue the validity overall of that statement. Regardless, the point is that other non-financial aspects of a job start to significantly increase in importance once your basic financial needs are met. Thus, I believe that seeking and giving healthy feedback is one of the most under-utilized benefits of leading and working on a team.
A lack of feedback is compensation left on the table.
You can be paid to do the same thing month after month, but add in a basic feedback loop and that same job may look dramatically different in ten months for the benefit of you, your employer, and for the mission of the organization. This is more than a seasonal performance review. This is actively creating a culture that invites, normalizes and thrives on feedback.
Feedback is never given in a neutral vacuum. If honest, we avoid it because it can be scary. Employers can hesitate to provide it for fear of offending, ambiguity on their part of how to give it and for fear of losing their staff. Employee’s rarely ask for it, are often starved for positive reinforcement and can misjudge their bosses motives. Yet, it is powerful. Look at what leaders across a broad range of industries have to say:
“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Ken Blanchard
“Average players want to be left alone. Good players want to be coached. Great players want to be told the truth.” Doc Rivers
“There are two things people want more than sex and money… recognition and praise.” Mary Kay Ash
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” Elon Musk
Considering the value of feedback is not just a recent phenomenon. Writing several thousand years ago in the book of Proverbs we see the ancient nature of this wisdom:
Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. Proverbs 12:15
If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor. Proverbs 15:31-33
Healthy feedback is given or received when it is direct, time bound and given regarding a project with an agreed upon target. Thus, unhealthy feedback targets people with personal remarks, is unnecessarily vague or about an objective that wasn’t stated at the start of the project. I have found through both giving feedback and receiving it that rarely does the conversation contain anything that surprises the team or individual, yet the power is that the conversation happened. Praise was spoken, needed improvement was out in the open and trust is actually built.
Feedback is free. Normalizing regular feedback maybe one of the best things you can do for your team, department, or organization. While free, it may be one of the most valuable things you do for those you lead.
Q. Why do I avoid giving or asking for feedback? What fears might I need to verbalize to overcome?
Q. Which quote stood out most and why? Who can you share this with to discuss how you can grow?