Why giving feedback is ALWAYS the right thing to do

❇️ Performance

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Nick Mackeson-Smith
Nick Mackeson-Smith
Chief Curiosity Officer, Founder and Director
November 26, 2019

Feedback is a gift. Always.

I vividly remember a moment at the early stages of my career - I’d only been in the workforce for a few years, and was given an opportunity to have some 1:1 time with the Head of HR for a global financial services firm. This was a big deal for me; I’d made the decision to have a career in HR and learning, and what this person thought of me really mattered to me at the time. Before then, I’d only ever seen this person 2 or 3 times, and hadn’t plucked up the courage to even ask them a question in a group setting.

For me, the stakes were high. That morning, I can’t have been massively productive - I think I was clock-watching in nervous anticipation for the moment to go in to the scary corner office with the floor to ceiling windows and miniature putting green in the office next door (yes, this was banking in the early 2000’s!).

When I walked in, the first thing that was evident was that this person had just eaten breakfast at their desk. The thing is, the evidence of this eating was literally all over his face (well-baked croissants can be quite flaky, and pastry has a habit of sticking to stubble and beards.... say no more!).

In truth, I don’t recall much of the advice or guidance that was given to me... I was enormously distracted by the thing that I could see but he couldn’t - the croissant still on his chin.

Before our time came to an end, my instinct kicked in. I know that I’d absolutely hate it if I had croissant all over my face and other people saw it and said nothing about it. I’d feel let down... perhaps embarrassed.... how many people have seen me looking like this? The only thing to do in that moment was to pluck up the courage to call it out....

“Hey... this is probably going to be just as embarrassing for you as it is for me to say it, but there is a some croissant on your chin just there...”

A gaping hole didn’t open up in front of me. My career didn’t end. I didn’t get thrown out of the office. In fact, I was thanked... we were both relieved. He avoided further embarrassment in far more important meetings than some 1:1 time with me, and I built a stronger, deeper relationship with someone because I cared about him.

Bottom line is this. If you can see something, and other people can’t (or won’t) see it, then it’s always the right thing to call it out. Politely. With care. With love. With respect. The intention of giving feedback must always be that you care about the other person; That you care about better outcomes for you, them, the organisation, and everyone around them.

It doesn’t matter if it’s about croissants, behaviour, work output, stakeholder engagement, performance... anything.... all of it. Feedback is a gift.

  • It should reinforce something done well
  • It should aim to give corrective guidance where things can be done better
  • It’s a gift... make it feel like one!
  • It demonstrates that you care about someone else
  • It builds trust
  • It raises awareness
  • It develops your confidence to have a voice

Give it a go. Give me a shout if you’d like help, or feedback on your approach.... I now absolutely LOVE giving feedback!

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash

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November 26, 2019
November 26, 2019

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