Rumor has it that kids and drunk people tell you the truth. My twin boys currently only say Gagaga and Iiiiih, and I do not socialize much with drunk people (parents of small children go to bed before 22 PM). I chose to ask my closest colleagues instead. In this blog post, I unveil my leadership feedback!
Few likes to give negative feedback, but everyone wants to hear it!
Most of us know how to handle positive feedback. We become happy, and straighten our back. Or perhaps we become skeptical. Yeah, yeah, was it really that good? Maybe they are just saying it to be nice. Hmm, do they other agendas? Our long-term memory does not always have enough storage capacity for compliments.
The negative words, or potential for improvement as we tend to call them, burn in. They annoy, and we think about them for a long time. What did she really mean with that feedback? Hmmm… Is everybody thinking the same?! Our doubts grow and it can become painful.
The content of the feedback, the timing and the person giving it is crucial for how you handle it. Research from Zenger/Folkman shows that few people like to give negative feedback, but everyone wants to hear it.
The research also shows that the older you get, the more you appreciate negative feedback. However, regardless of generation and age, giving negative feedback is not popular.
I have learned that getting negative feedback, gives me a chance to improve. I usually say – “Now I am going to give you a gift. I think you should improve this and that etc.”
The gifts from my colleagues!
After a self-evaluation of leadership style and feedback from my colleagues, I am now in the “feedback stair” (illustration below based on a sketch from smartbiz.nu).
I have read the feedbacks several times, structured it and reflected on it. The following points are some of the feedback, accompanied with my immediate thoughts and stair steps.
- Work environment: Several of my colleagues responded that they like working with me, and that they feel appreciated (hurray, that made me happy!). I am perceived as having positive energy and a positive presence. However, I am very busy and sometimes too little present at the Deloitte office. I am always cheerful, but apparently, it is obvious when I am angry (oops, at this point I am at step 3 or 4 in the feedback stair. Does this happen very often? I have to examine this more closely!).
- Client relations: My colleagues see that I am genuinely interested in our clients, both when it comes to professional topics and establishing relationships. I listen a lot when I meet decision makers, my opinions are made clear, but I am tactical when it comes to getting decisions made. (This made me happy as well. I think my challenge is that I prioritize my clients so much that I forget what is happening in my own firm. This is obviously step 5, but also a little bit step 2!).
- The leader role in daily life: They say that I take the lead, but I delegate, do quality assurance and give advice. I am not trying to show authority. This leads to everyone relaxing. (I had not thought about that). However, during busy times, I sometimes do not have the time to supervise individuals. (I identify with this description, but I feel the urge to explain this. Warning! Step 3. I should get more information about this one).
- Communication: I am perceived as direct, usually in a good way. Particularly younger colleagues think that I am a little bit “sharp”. (I know! I am definitely at step 4 or 5 in this case). Matters I think are simple and uncomplicated, are not necessarily the same for others. I am sometimes perceived as very busy, and younger employees are not sure how they should reach me. Short and cryptic messages are not always easy to understand. (This one I really understand. I promise to improve. Step 5!).
- Efficiency: You are an expert in multitasking. But you have a lot happening at the same time, what is your limit? (I am not really sure myself, and I have to reduce my multitasking. Step 5 or 6).
- Role model: A role model who shows that everything is possible, with a pragmatic attitude saying, “everything will be alright”. I am perceived as being sporty and cool (thanks a lot for that one. This is step 6!)
So far, this process has been incredibly rewarding. This is the first time I have taken the time to really consider how I can improve as a leader. This will probably be a yearly event.
Aloha from Maui,