tip tuesday-01 (2)

I have often heard from clients and colleagues that they hate giving feedback to employees. Many have told me they would rather get a root canal or sing naked in the middle of Times Square than have to have this conversation.

While that reaction may seem a bit extreme, I must confess, I totally get it. You see, I used to be ‘An Avoider.’ I was one of those leaders who always tried to see the best in people and if I happened to see something less than the best, I simply hoped the issue would resolve itself.

Bad idea!

Not addressing issues as soon as you notice them can cause those issues to fester. And then other members of your staff are affected, and eventually whatever dysfunction is going on can affect the well-being of the entire student body.

Why do so many of us fall into the avoider category? Why does giving and receiving feedback feel like a death sentence?

A Fate Worse Than Death?

For the person giving the feedback, there is always anxiety because no one wants to hurt someone else’s feelings. How will they react? How can I make sure my tone isn’t too harsh?  What do I do if they become argumentative? All of these unanswered questions can make a person incredibly uneasy.

People receiving feedback are instantly put on the defensive. We all want to feel we are valued. We all want people to appreciate us. So when we hear there is any kind of room for improvement, well, it doesn’t feel great.

If you are the one receiving feedback, understand that no one is perfect and there is always room for growth. Embrace your full potential and try to hear the feedback as a path to reaching that potential.

If you are the one giving the feedback, there are some things you can do to ensure the conversation is fruitful and effective:

  • Reflect back on feedback you have received and the manner in which it was given. How did it impact you?
  • Where did you learn to give feedback and what did you adopt into your own style of feedback?
  • What have you tracked in terms of the impact of the feedback you have given in the past? How do your employees react? Do your employees leave empowered, seen, heard, valued and supported?
  • How do you listen?
  • What is your over-all GOAL?

The FRAMEWORK of FEEDBACK Conversations

What if before you met with each of your employees, you determined the desired outcome for the conversation? Your goal would then be to take out any potential negativity and to start focusing on that desired outcome. How can you use this initial feedback conversation as a way to strengthen the relationship? What can you do to ensure honest communication, motivation, improving job tactics, teaching what you know, and assisting your employees to get to where they need and want to go professionally?

It is an academic new year so why not try a new approach. This semester, focus on creating a positive space within these feedback conversations. Make them productive and a launching pad for growth and success.

Debra Y. Griffith 
Dean of Student Equity and Success at West Valley Community College 
Consultant|  Speaker | Coach |Strategist |Trainer