I’ve noticed a disheartening phenomenon lately. It’s the reluctance to give feedback in the workplace because “they won’t do anything anyway”. People seem to think that if the person or organization they work for doesn’t immediately begin doing what they think should happen, then the feedback wasn’t taken seriously or even listened to.
I get it. We all have strong opinions about what our bosses or leaders should do. Even more, feedback can be a once a year event, and then organizations don’t always do a great job explaining what the feedback was and how they will respond. It’s also human nature to gossip and criticize. Our negativity bias and our propensity to judge others and believe we are right when others are wrong (The Happiness Hypothesis, p. 78) can take over, and we find ourselves going to town with colleagues on what is wrong and what needs to happen to fix it.
The thing is, I need to improve, and I need feedback to do it. I’m hopeful that I can help grow a culture of feedback with those I work with so it becomes more of a habit and not a once a year all or nothing event. Shakil Choudhury of Anima Leadership, uses three questions to help create a culture of feedback:
- What am I doing well?
- What do I need to improve?
- What are my next steps for learning?
I used these intensely personal questions to seek feedback from principals and vice principals about my leadership. The resulting conversations were insightful, challenging, and ultimately very useful. Does seeking and receiving this feedback mean that I am immediately going to change things to reflect what I heard? Yes… and no. I heard some great suggestions that I can implement right away, I heard things that really made me go “Hmmmm,” and ones that made me realize I need to communicate more and better while staying the course. Most interesting, the feedback showed a wide variety of opinions and a lack of consensus. On reflection, that’s not surprising, since the leaders I work with are quite different from one another.
What you about you? Do you have any feedback for me?
I’ve written about feedback before in these posts if you want to read more.
“I value your participation.”
“What an interesting idea – let’s follow up on that.”
“What do you think?”
We all want to be noticed, valued and to belong. A big fanfare is not always needed, but those moments of quiet recognition that say, “I see you, and you are valued” are powerful.
When people feel as if no one cares they become disengaged and then cynical. That’s harmful for them and bad for the organizations they work for.
We all need to take responsibility to help others belong.
I unlocked the Sobi bike, threw my work bag in the basket and set off. Last week, I used our Hamilton Bike Share network (aka Sobi) to get from school to school for some visits. It was amazing! I love riding my bike, but I didn’t imagine that it would be so fun. The combination of a beautiful day, riding around a city I love, and seeing staff hard at work for our students made for a great experience.
I have a wonderful job. It’s hard sometimes – some days I really need to go home and cocoon on the couch. But mostly it’s exciting and interesting. Oh, and did I mention that the schools I work with are in downtown Hamilton, a very bikeable city, so getting around is quite easy?
Last Wednesday was also International Walk (or Roll) to School Day and I wanted to participate. Any little way I can reduce air pollution and be active seems like a good idea. But I had school visits. Earlier in the week, I had seen Principal Mary Finstad biking to and from and meeting, skirt, helmet and all. So, why not ride? I am a regular user of Hamilton Bike Share, although usually on weekends. It was fun to plan to use it on a work day. I parked at the first school, got permission to leave my car there for most of the day and headed out after my first visit. No athletic clothes necessary – I was riding Amsterdam style in my work outfit. The Sobi bikes are modelled after Dutch bikes, so you’re not competing in the Tour de France, you’re just bopping around town. I stopped for a coffee then on to the next school. Visits over, I biked back to the hub near my car and then off to my office for a meeting. Pretty great.
What about you – have you ever considered walking or riding to school or work?