As a CEO of an online course company, you’ve probably read your fair share of advice on how to GIVE direct feedback…and giving direct feedback is important.
Whether someone on your team is falling short on their goals or going above and beyond – it’s your responsibility to give them some feedback.
But, what happens when someone on your team needs to give YOU direct feedback…and it’s not good?
Your reaction to their feedback will determine whether that person ever gives you honest feedback again.
Not to mention, as your team grows, YOU will no longer be managing every single person on your team. You will have Department Managers that have teams of their own.
In that case it’s JUST as important that those Department Managers learn how to receive feedback from their teams AND that their team members learn how to receive feedback from their managers.
The truth is that you cannot control HOW someone chooses to give you feedback, but you CAN control the way you receive it.
I mean, imagine how powerful it would feel to know that even if someone’s DELIVERY is terrible, you can still benefit from it.
You won’t waste time ruminating over the WAY someone told you something. You’ll learn what you can and move forward. THE END.
As your organization grows, it’s increasingly important that you stay OUT of the drama and INTO momentum.
There is a great book called “Thanks For The Feedback” by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen. The FULL title is “Thanks for the Feedback: The Science And Art Of Receiving Feedback Well, even when it is off base, unfair, poorly delivered, and frankly, you’re not in the mood.”
In that book Stone and Heen identify top 3 triggers that block your ability to RECEIVE feedback.
The first trigger is called The Truth Trigger, which is caused by the SUBSTANCE of the feedback.
Stone and Heen argue that labeling the feedback as “FALSE” from the outset prevents you from having a deeper understanding about WHY that feedback was given in the first place.
I get it. If someone tells you that you are inconsiderate because you never sent an email reminder for your webinar, when you DID send an email reminder – it can be easy to feel defensive and say YES I DID SEND IT, GOODBYE FOREVER.
But, if you disregard that type of feedback right away, then you won’t be able to determine WHY that person believes you didn’t send out a reminder email.
So a good rule of thumb is to seek to UNDERSTAND. Get curious. Ask questions. Forget about trying to prove they’re wrong and seek to understand WHY they think they’re right.
Maybe it turns out they unsubscribed from your list after they registered for your webinar, so they never received a reminder. Maybe your email went to spam. Maybe they entered the wrong email on the registration page.
Understanding WHY it happened can give you great feedback and then you get to determine whether a system or process needs to be adjusted to prevent someone else from missing out on your webinar reminder.
The second trigger is called The Relationship Trigger, which is caused by WHO is giving you the feedback.
Stone and Heen believe that sometimes the WHO prevents you from SEEING the WHAT.
They argue that if someone on your team gives you feedback that leaves you feeling “hurt, suspicious, or angry” that’s likely a sign that you are experiencing The Relationship Trigger.
Let’s say that one of your team members tells you that they felt like you were trying to make them look bad at the last team meeting.
If you have a positive relationship with that team member, you might start to spiral into your own hurt feelings and think about all the great things you have ever done for them – as opposed to looking at the SUBSTANCE of what they said.
If you have a negative relationship with that team member, you might simply disregard their feedback from the outset because you don’t trust them or maybe you feel like they’re just taking things out on you.
The best thing to do when you are experiencing The Relationship Trigger is to try to separate the WHAT from the WHO.
Then, zoom out even further and look at the way you relate to each other. What is the relationship dynamic? How do you contribute to the dynamic? How do they contribute to the dynamic?
The Relationship Trigger is a really powerful opportunity for you to uncover an area of growth regarding your OWN behavior, but it’s also an opportunity to uncover an area of growth for the relationship itself.
The third trigger is called The Identity Trigger, which is caused by feedback that directly conflicts with how we see OURSELVES.
Stone and Heen share that if you feel extremely defensive or you feel completely destabilized by feedback someone is giving you, you are likely experiencing The Identity Trigger.
We all have stories that we tell ourselves about who we are and how we BELIEVE we are perceived by others.
For example, let’s say that you consider yourself to be a generous person. Maybe generosity is even one of your core values. Then during your next 1:1 with an employee they let you know that they feel you are not being generous with your time and that you’re never available for help when they need it. They feel like you’re spending time on things that you want to do, but when it comes to supporting your employees, they’re left out in the cold.
Someone who considers herself to be a very generous person would find feedback like this, no matter how well it was delivered or who it came from, to be completely destabilizing.
The antidote to this feeling is to stop blowing the situation out of proportion. It may FEEL like your world is crashing down around you because someone is accusing you of being selfish – but, the world is actually not crashing down. So, take a moment to see what is “actually” being said.
Also, realize that we are all learning and growing. You don’t have to be perfectly generous all of the time. That’s not realistic. You can be a generous person and still have moments of selfishness. That’s normal. Learn what you can from the situation and move forward.
The bottom line is, we ALL struggle with receiving feedback at times – but, that doesn’t mean we can’t improve.
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