Access Point: The Intention of Feedback
“The secret sauce to productive feedback is the intention behind it and the environment in which we exchange it.”
- James McPartland
How often in our work lives do we hear the word “feedback”? And how does it make us feel?
Intellectually, we know that giving and receiving feedback is a natural part of our professional lives. In our hearts, we know that we have to accept some objective valuation of how we're doing in our jobs.
Yet so many of us have difficulty navigating feedback. The mere mention of the word might cause us to sweat and fear professional ramifications or embarrassment. If it feels personal, it’s because it is. How can we disentangle our work identities from ourselves, especially when our work is where we spend most of our time?
There is no way around this reality—at some point, we will be giving or receiving feedback from a boss, a colleague, a peer, a subordinate, or a client. The better we can become utilizing feedback as a communication tool, the better we can become as people, and by ripple effect, the better our work and our organizations.
The secret sauce to productive feedback is the intention behind it and the environment in which we exchange it. Is it psychologically safe? Is the person approaching us a safe individual? Is leadership approachable and open to receive feedback? Or are there consequences for perpetuating a culture of authenticity and transparency?
Even though we may have misgivings about the feedback process, most workers prefer to receive more feedback, not less. We all have an intrinsic need to feel like we are making progress and are valuable to our work communities.
Are people getting what they expect out of us?
Are we accomplishing what we set out to do?
Are we designing the experience we promised?
To what degree are we succeeding or failing?
On the one hand, we are looking for actionable information, but on the other, we don't want to be whiplashed around by it.
That all starts with our intention.
If your intention when receiving feedback is to avoid embarrassment, or conversely, to pump up your ego, you will be up and down like a yo-yo for the rest of your professional life.
That's a manic experience that doesn't feel very good.
Conversely, come into feedback with a genuine desire to improve yourself, be of the best service with those you do business with, accomplish all your long-term goals, and sharpen yourself to the next level. You will be able to hear your feedback in a way that is useful for you.