Feedback Isn’t Criticism

It’s important to remember that feedback isn’t criticism, and if we deliver it as only areas of opportunity, we’ll alienate our teams, discourage their productivity, and curb all creativity and energy. When momentum is rolling, we have to encourage progress and simply help our teams make sure they’ve uncovered all the options in their decision-making tree that may be masking the best possible solution.

Here’s another thing about feedback: there’s always something good in there, so don’t overlook it. Your team members need to feel a few wins, so don’t ever hesitate to draw attention to what’s working and why it’s spot on. Feedback is a way to share ideas that spark conversation so you can find a better result by thinking through the tough stuff as an aligned unit. Feedback is always a combination of what’s going well and what we can do to improve. It’s gotta be a little bit of both.

Finally, when you’re providing feedback, it’s important to share it in person – always. Never deliver it in an email. Ever. Unless you’re just gushing about a fantastic accomplishment and you want to take a moment to recognize success (which we should all definitely be doing), make sure feedback is given in person. Engage in dialogue. Talk about what’s working and what we can continue to improve upon together. Ask each other questions and show you’re coachable too. Recognize facial expressions, body language, and have a productive conversation about needs, goals, changes, and next steps.

When feedback becomes part of your regular routine and it takes a helpful and positive angle, you’ll see your teams start to crave it, not fear it. The more you embrace it yourself, the more apt your teams will be to engage positively and ask for feedback. If we all open ourselves up to being humble, honest, and eager to learn, we’ll be setting up for long-term success and growing the next generation of strong and positive leaders in our fields.

Feedback is a Good Thing

One of the best things you can do professionally is show you are humble enough to grow and improve. No one is perfect, and we should all take the time to reflect, embrace change, and get better at what we do and how we work with others.

Feedback should be used often, so go ahead and ask for it. If it is saved for just an annual review, you’ve missed so many opportunities to learn. Feedback early and often helps us all engage with more purpose and success, and truly keeps us honest. Even a quick touch point here and there can make a world of difference in overall productivity.

Whether you’re giving or receiving feedback, don’t forget that it isn’t criticism. It should always be balanced and supportive. Honesty is important, but there’s always something good to reflect on, and there’s always an area of opportunity to address. We’re all succeeding with something, so don’t overlook what’s going well. When you step back and look at the big picture, sometimes just showing up is a win, right? Don’t skip the wins, even if they’re small.

It can be a humbling experience to receive feedback, but the more you ask for it, the easier it is to take. No one wants to hear they’re failing time and time again, so if you’re coaching a team or working with others, give feedback regularly, and be sure to include the high points when you do. More often than not, it should be about the positives you see in performance. Recognize what’s going right, so when you need to address what isn’t, you’re not the bad guy swooping in just to correct the mistakes. Even if you can’t be there in person, send a shout out by text or email, or make a quick phone call to congratulate success. Focus on what’s going well, and you’ll start building a more productive, satisfied, and engaged team that’s eager to meet and exceed their goals, grow as professionals, and be a part of your company for a bigger, grander purpose.

Take Ownership

No one wants to be wrong or admit fault, but when you do it graciously, you’ll earn an immense amount of respect. Taking ownership for your mishaps and showing your willingness to grow from these hurdles will elevate you to entirely new places. We all make mistakes, and it’s okay. We’re human and we’re not perfect. Let’s be real and admit them, and then move forward, respecting each other for our efforts and partnership.

We’ve never gained anything from pointing fingers or pushing the blame onto our colleagues. It’s not worth it. Be confident enough to know that you’ll get through it, even if you made a choice that wasn’t your best. I’ve learned so much more from things that didn’t go according to my plan than those that have, and the life lessons have made me stronger and more apt to make better choices in the future. We’re all our own worst critics, so honestly, you’re probably being too hard on yourself by worrying about it when these things happen.

One of the most gracious things you can do with a mistake is ask for feedback on how you can do a better job next time. When you’re comfortable enough to take a hit and get through it, you’ll bounce back stronger than ever, and ready for the challenges ahead. This is leading with integrity, knowing we can get through anything when our best efforts come from good places.