Can You Handle the Truth?

If your organization doesn’t have a sustainable feedback loop, you’re missing a valuable opportunity for growth. I have something important to share with you about the way you manage your team. Are you ready to hear the truth?

Here it is: You probably suck at giving feedback.

If that bit of constructive criticism rubs you the wrong way, you’re in good company. One of the biggest challenges I see amongst organizational leaders is the hesitance or downright inability to create and sustain a healthy feedback loop.

Why? Because we’re afraid of what we’ll hear. We’re afraid of opening that proverbial can of worms— and with good reason. In the past, either you received negative feedback and felt attacked or humiliated, or you tried to give constructive criticism and felt the wrath of the recipient’s hurt feelings.

Either way, it’s time to learn how to share and respond differently because in giving and receiving feedback, we have incredible potential for growth as individuals and teams.

In fact, most humans long for corrective guidance, but few know how to provide it.

People want feedback and they are not surprised when they receive constructive criticism. In a recent study, researchers polled almost 4000 adults and found that nearly 75% of those who received negative feedback already knew there was an issue. In fact, they prefer receiving constructive criticism that helps them improve, learn, and grow over receiving praise.

And yet, when asked who feels comfortable providing negative feedback, hardly anyone raises their hand.

SpiralMethod teaches leaders and their teams how to give and take constructive feedback. First, we create a container for intentional, honest communication. Before we begin, we establish specific ground rules that everyone buys into, which creates safety. A facilitator ensures that security is sustained. These steps are essential to the success of our groups.

Once we’re ready to Spiral, there are a few dynamics that make our feedback loop uniquely effective:

  1. The feedback recipient asks for the feedback. Unless the person wants feedback, they aren’t going to be receptive to it. When we establish a SpiralMethod practice with a group, each participant has the chance to ask for feedback. It’s a natural part of the process, so it’s not awkward, and individuals are prepared to receive personal assessments, so they don’t feel attacked.
  2. Feedback is given without motive or judgment. When we provide feedback that will help make an individual more effective in their role, we are being of service. Ask yourself, “Why am I giving this feedback?” Is your comment about the person’s performance, or is it about a personal agenda or judgment?  Feedback should be direct and simply report the facts. (“You missed three deadlines.”) It is not a forum for airing personal grievances or pet peeves. (“Your loud laugh annoys me.”)
  3. The receiver must listen deeply. Feedback is not a dialogue. When we Spiral, the person receiving feedback listens. They simply acknowledge the feedback by saying, “Thank you.”  As the group provides feedback, themes may arise which the recipient may choose to act on.

There will also be perceptions imparted that aren’t relevant or useful. None of this is entirely true. But it’s valuable to hear people’s perceptions because, even if we disagree with them, there may be a grain of truth that’s valuable for personal growth. So it behooves us to listen —whether it’s true or not —and decide what to take on.

In SpiralMethod, we’re practicing giving direct and caring feedback that’s honest. We’re healing something for all of us. We’re mending the wound that unskilled, unconscious feedback may have left on us. Leaders who embrace our practice have a unique opportunity to create and sustain feedback loops and demonstrate how much they value and appreciate their teams.

Granted, feedback is difficult to give or receive — if it’s done without mindful intention and skill. Giving and taking feedback requires practice! And that’s exactly what we do when we Spiral.