Facing Into Feedback

The words appraisal, review or feedback are enough to send many running for the hills! Most people do not have a great experience of structured feedback. Most jobs, including my own, include a degree of feedback as part of performance goals and personal development.

I am on a journey this year to embrace feedback.

As 2017 approached everywhere I turned I heard and saw the word feedback. Through leadership podcasts, blogs I read, in conversations with others and at work. If truth be told the thread of feedback ran throughout the last half of 2016!

So finally I have made a conscious decision to do something about it! I can’t honestly say the idea always excites me but I do feel a growing sense of value for getting good feedback on how I affect the people around me.

I have always loved this simple example of our need for feedback.

Your nose is positioned a very short distance from your mouth. Yet you are often the last person to discover you have bad breath!

Pass the Tic-Tacs… In other words it can be dangerous to make the assumption that we have the best perspective on ourselves!

Feedback can be really hard though. Even when it is properly balanced, or should I say unbalanced towards the positive. We all seem to have a filter which minimises our strengths and maximises our weaknesses.  An honest perspective on both is what is required. Even where we are weak we can choose to see these as opportunities or restrictions. Our failings must also always be understood in the context of God’s grace and ongoing work in our lives.

So why am I going after feedback?

1. I want to grow

I have heard a number of leaders I respect tell me that feedback is one of the best accelerators of emotional intelligence. Research from the last couple of decades clearly shows that emotional intelligence is a much higher predictor of success that IQ. It is not about necessarily becoming smarter but more about a clear understanding of ourselves and our impact on others. I am always looking to grow because I want to play my part in God’s plan for my life. I want to maximise my short time on this planet, not in a desperate  and anxious way but in a grace-filled desire to be faithful.

Feedback is all about growing your self awareness. The most confident and easiest people to spend time with are normally the most self aware.

2. Security misplaced

I also have a feeling that the journey of feedback exposes insecurities waiting to become securities. Insecurities are just securities misplaced. At its heart feedback either crushes our identity, or takes us to new levels of understanding and strength. Identity, both in the way we are made uniquely but also in God’s perspective on who we are and what he has called us to be. Either way it requires vulnerability.

Of course always requesting feedback can be a sign of insecurity! It can be a sign that our identity is mostly in the views of others not in who we are rooted in God’s unconditional love. On this journey I hope to avoid this trap!

3. Healthy relationships

The more I learn about relationships the easier it is to see how vital good feedback is in developing genuine intimacy and health. Sadly I have heard a number of examples recently where a lack of confrontation on minor issues has led to a high level of toxicity in relationships. Failing to deal with little niggles or suppressing concerns may seem like a good short term approach but sadly these issues tend to bubble and brew over years to create a poisonous concoction.

Relationships rarely fail because of a single moment or event. Often there is a drifting or a disconnect that happens longs before any trigger point.

Dream teams that were once perfectly healthy can somehow deteriorate almost without anyone noticing due to a lack of honest conversation at early stages. A little feedback often and early saves a lot of feedback too late.

Here we go…

So I am going after feedback. Both giving and receiving. I want to grow in my ability to give others feedback in the way I want to receive it (Perhaps this will be another post)! I also want to grow in receiving feedback in whatever form it comes. I have seen how the best leaders can grow from feedback they really don’t like. Whether we like it or not one of the primary ways God chooses to grow us is through the people he has placed in our lives. Some people just grow us quicker 😉

Everything about feedback feels counter-cultural to this introverted Brit. Yet the alternatives seem to fall far short of the life in all its fullness Jesus came to offer. Whatever the future holds I can guarantee it will involve relationships and team. It will be a much more enjoyable journey if these relationships can remain healthy!

In case you were not clear though, this is not an invitation to come and tell me everything you don’t like about me or my work!  🙂

I’ll keep you posted on how this journey progresses and will share some thoughts, which are already brewing, on how to build a healthy culture of feedback.

Dare I ask it but perhaps you have some feedback on my pursuit of feedback?! How do you feel about the feedback process?

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