I have been taking a course in management over the past few days, specifically on leadership, feedback, coaching, difficult conversations, etc. It’s been a great course to show me the things I’ve done well over my career, as well given me some guidance as to things I should work on, so that I can be the best employee, and best manager that I can be for my staff, my management hierarchy and the company.
Today’s topic on providing feedback took me back to a time where I was asked by a Sr. Manager about an employee’s performance – someone I was working with on a project. I had given some feedback balancing both positive and negative feedback. It was clear my Sr. Manager at the time was concerned about the employee, as they were new to consulting, and wanting to build up the employee, knowing that they were struggling.
It was also clear that the same Sr. Manager asked the Project Manager the same question and shared feedback from others. The only reason I knew was because the Project Manager then came to me, essentially, berating me for the feedback I had provided, how horrible it was, and how horrible a person I was.
I don’t totally remember my reaction at the time, but I am sure I was defensive, and ultimately flabbergasted. The Project Manager clearly had no understanding of what was actually communicated, and acted quite inappropriately around something they truly had no idea about, nor the commitment to contributing to helping that employee.
See, the feedback I provided was not malicious in any way. It was about guiding that employee so that they could be the best consultant they could be. I was straight up because that’s what my management needed to hear. They didn’t want to hear some padded, safe story about how the employee was not truly doing.
Yes the employee had faults, needed to learn from their faults, and maybe even fail at something. It’s that failure that can lead to some great growth. Truly, it’s been amazing to watch that consultant grow over the years.
It’s all in how you deliver the feedback, your intention – to build someone up; what you are truly committed to – building a fantastic project team (at the time); and what you stand for – my team being the best team they can be.
It was clear that the Sr. Manager could count on me for my honesty and commitment to contributing to build a fantastic team of consultants.
When providing feedback, you want to build someone up, build their confidence, build trust, and make that person feel valued. Support them. It can be scary to be that straight up. Again, consider what your commitment is.
If you’re not going to provide substance and contribute to building your team, then maybe you’re not the right person for the job, leading to morale and trust issues. Ultimately it’s destructive.