No matter how sophisticated and far from our primeval origins we get, our reptilian brains still kick in from time to time.
We all know about fight or flight in the face of threat, and that’s very useful if someone is burgling your house or intimidating your family, But, a surprising trigger for the same stress reaction is ‘feedback’.
It seems odd that such a small thing can get adrenalin pumping, but our brains are still wired to continually monitor our ‘status’ for signs of attack. This can even include other people’s reactions to our work. You might have experienced it first hand, perhaps your heart starts pumping whenever you are invited to discuss your performance at work. This ‘stress’ reaction makes it incredibly difficult to deliver effective, ‘constructive’ feedback, whether positive or negative.
To compound this further, the phrase ‘feedback’ even when coupled with ‘constructive’ isn’t particularly helpful. You can hear discussion around this on the brilliant Radical Candor podcast. The creators of this resource have helpfully identified that just using this phrase makes people feel defensive.
With this much at stake, is it work giving feedback at all? Well, yes. Feedback is an important part of keeping a business running well. This is because it’s only when we reflect on an experience that we learn from it. Good feedback will help to facilitate learning from past activity, and reflecting on the things that went well or badly can feed into improving future projects. There is much documented about how we learn more from failure than success.
People who are considered ‘good’ employees tend to be the ones who will actively seek feedback and use it to proactively improve on what they are delivering, they may be carrying out routine reflective practice where they reflect and review on experiences and look for ways to do things differently next time. They might even look for opportunities for giving feedback to you in return, so it makes sense to role model doing it in a positive way!
Here are our recommendations for giving feedback in a positive way, that will support the growth of your employee, and your business.
If you need more help with feeding back to staff, we can coach you through doing this, or help you build a culture of handling this well within your business. Why not try us out by signing up for a free no-obligation taster session of our Sounding Board Service.
The taster session is carried out by phone, it’s a 30-minute mini-audit of your current HR strategy or our instant advice on an HR issue that you need help with. Find out more here.