My dad always said feedback is a gift. Now, I truly believe that mantra can completely change the outcome of one’s attitude and overall performance. The gift is yours to open up and use, or to be placed on a shelf. At Helen & Gertrude, we strive to create an environment of constant feedback and open communication. Kim Scott expands on the topic in her book, Radical Candor, explaining that being a successful leader means nothing should take employees by surprise because conversations are regular and continuous.
I’ll gladly accept feedback where I can get it. As a manager, it really makes all the difference in leading a successful team. If we’ve ever had the pleasure of working together, it may come as no surprise that I’ve been given the feedback that I move “too fast.” Sometimes comments don’t feel good to hear, but understanding the power behind an observation is crucial to be able to adjust and adapt yourself for the better. Another way it’s been put is, “you’re like a hurricane… except you create order instead of chaos.” I take no offense to either, but instead, I recognize the strengths I have in my speediness and learn how to slow myself down in necessary situations.
To build a culture where feedback is encouraged and well-received takes work. You must provide the tools necessary to give appropriate feedback in a constructive manner and open the communication channels to do so. This may look like a mixture of methods and styles, because well, every employee is different. At H&G, we have formal 6-month review periods, where employees and their managers provide feedback for one another in a very pinpointed and structured way. However, between those meetings, we are having regular 1:1 meetings and track against goals throughout the year. Goals are directly tied to feedback and give employees a vehicle to act on the feedback given.
It is also important to note that feedback should never have negative connotations. There is no difference between positive and negative feedback because it should be constructive, but never criticism. It is simply an observation of what is happening. This doesn’t necessarily mean that feedback is requiring change, either.
In addition, feedback provides employees with a better understanding of the projects they’re involved in. Because conversations are constantly being had and status reports are regular, employees can see the direct correlation between their input and the outcome of the project. Results help answer the “why am I doing this?” and “what is my purpose with this?” - which ultimately motivates employees by seeing their hard work pay off. Honestly, this is why I have such a love for marketing. The cause and effect is right there! You can see your impact in company revenue, culture, and professional advancements.
My job wouldn’t exist without feedback. As the chief of strategy, I provide clients with tangible results to strategically meet their goals. The reason why we’re hired as a digital agency is to provide clients with help and push their brand forward, via knowledge and expertise of the industry. You can’t go into a professional relationship saying yes to everything, projects would flop! Instead, it’s about providing feedback and sharing what would succeed and why - forming a successful 2-way partnership.
So when someone comes up to you with a fully-wrapped, big box of feedback, take it. Open it. Use it. And remember to encourage those around you to do the same, because who doesn’t love a free gift?