A feedback is great tool to create an awesome work environment. The primary reason why people come to work is opportunity to work with stunning colleagues. A proper feedback goes a long way in aligning stunning colleagues towards common goals.
A manager must always encourage team members to give and receive feedback. Feedback must be given in 360 degrees regardless of the level of the person giving or receive feedback. A person who is giving feedback must feel safe and fearless while giving feedback to other person who is 3 or 4 levels above him/her.
Lets consider a scenario:
John: A software Engineer working in Acme corporation
Jim: A engineering VP of Acme corporation
Matt: A marketing manager
Jane: An prospective customer of Acme corporation
One day Matt sets up a meeting with prospective customer Jane to talk about upcoming product that Jane might be interested in a day. It’s a 4 hr meeting hoping to get to know Jane first and then talk about product.
Matt starts off meeting introducing Acme members to Jane. They spend first hr just about what Jane has been doing during her vacation. Jim seems to be little bit disturbed by it. He keeps looking at phone every 5 mins. John is very quiet during the meeting so far. After about an hr, Matt starts describing product and how is it better than its competition. He invites Jim to demonstrate the product. Jim gets very excited , he takes out his laptop and walk Jane through the presentation. He directs deep technical question to John who happily answer all the questions. Jane appreciates all the answers. She then moves on to talk about drawbacks about the product. Matt goes on describing drawbacks but quickly givens aggressive timelines to fix them. Jim and John are visibly upset but do not say anything during the meeting. The meeting concludes and Jane agrees to come back with answer in less than a week.
When feedback should be given ?
A feedback should be given throughout year. It should be part of every 1:1. In above case John, Jim and Matt must follow up on the meeting immediately and discuss how things went. They must talk about what went well, what things did not go well and how should such meeting be handled in the future.
In above case Matt was not happy about Jim’s behavior of looking at phone as that shows no interest in customer. Jim was not happy with Matt as they were discussing other than business for first hour. Later Jim and John both were not happy with Matt for promising aggressive timeline without having proper discussion.
How a feedback should be given?
Aim to assist :
The feedback must be given with positive intent. It is not a tool to express frustration or anger.
Matt must express to Jim and John that during the meeting with Jane , he would like to help everyone to align with respect to how to manage customer meeting more effectively. Jim and John also must communicate to Matt that they would like to meet him in order to provide feedback with aim to improve credibility of the company during customer meetings
Feedback must express objectively what is impact of person’s behavior and describe how its impacting the team or customers.
Matt must honestly told Jim that he felt that Jim does not seem to be interested in the meeting for first hour. That sends wrong signal to Jane as she might have felt that Matt and John are not on same page. This may end up losing customer.
Jim and John also must tell Matt that he should not provide aggressive timelines to Jane without proper discussion with customer. This would end up missing timeline and end up eroding customer’s trust in Acme corporation.
Feedback must describe what actions the person must take in order to correct his/her behavior in a timely manner
Matt tells Jim that he must show interest to get to know their Customer better by indulging in non technical conversation. He also tells Jim to switch off his cell phone during meeting.
Jim tells Matt that he must have given heads to Jim and John that since they are meeting Jane for the first time, the first hour would be getting to know her rather than giving technical details.
John tells Matt that he must not give any timelines to Jane with prior discussion with engineering
The person who is giving feedback must appreciate the other person for listening to feedback and appreciate the efforts the person will take towards creating a conductive environment.
John , Jim and Matt appreciates each other for providing honest and actionable feedback
Accept or Discard :
Person must listen to feedback. He/She must consider if there is genuine concern by evaluating it. He/She can then decide whether to objectively look at it , act on it fully, partially or ignore it.
John , Jim and Matt acknowledge feedback and agrees on most of it. Jim looks at Matt’s feedback about switching off his cell phone. Jim tells him nicely that it’s not possible to switch off phone as he could important calls from his sick wife but he agrees not to look at phone for non urgent matters.