Personal Feedback and Actively Listening
In my last video, I talked about the rewards of job crafting, namely giving the ability to employees to incorporate in their job duties their passions, their interests and their skills (either existing or to be developed) in order to empower them, increase their engagement and in fine their productivity.
Job crafting requires trust as a bedrock to be successful. When a trustful relationship is established between managers and employees, it is then possible to gather and implement employees’ feedback.
There are two different types of feedback.
The first one, the most formal, is about the employee’s job position, his or her duties. It is can quite analytical and self-centered. From this feedback, we can start developing some approaches to craft duties, to make a job, not only more appealing to the employee but potentially more efficient, more rewarding for the company.
The second feedback is more personal. Sometimes, it is still related to the job, but more on the interactions with others, about one’s feelings of belonging, of being valued, of being satisfied or enthusiastic about work.
I can even be more personal, from outside of work. And even though it is not of the responsibility of the manager to take on these issues, it is best as human beings to be supportive and offer a listening ear.
Sometimes, feedback can be pretty difficult to handle. We can feel under attack. We can feel powerless or confused. Maybe it has nothing to do with work and we might want to evacuate the topic as quickly as possible to move on and get rid of this uncomfortable feeling.
Yet, we must resist this urge to close the subject, with a nonchalant and impersonal: “I understand how you feel” or “I have been there too” because chances are, we don’t understand a thing!
There are few things stifling more trust that an indifferent and unconcerned comment.
Even though we might be genuine and think we show empathy by expressing that we can relate, it can do the extreme opposite in the eyes of the employee.
He or she can feel unheard and misunderstood because he or she believes it is not possible for us to relate to their issues. And there might be good reasons for this, such as the generational gap or being part of a minority group.
To a 25-years old Asian woman, it might seem impossible for her manager, a 50-years old white caucasian male, to understand the difficulties she can encounter as a young woman, from a minority group.
So, as leaders, we need to bridge this gap in understanding.
Not by quickly deflecting with a standard “I understand”, but by being more curious. We need to listen actively, carefully. We need to ask questions, taking care not to interrupt the answer, and letting ample time to the employee to fully speak their mind.
Once, you dug several times, by asking questions, and the employee finally stops by him or herself, you can rephrase quickly their feedback with their words to show to really understand, that you have listened to them.
Only then, the employee will feel heard, and you can start to come up with solutions.
More about Receiving Personal Feedback
An excellent book that you can read to know more about how to implement a culture promoting feedback in companies is: “The Fearless Organization – Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation and Growth” by Amy Edmondson.
In this book, Amy explains how leaders’ conscious and subconscious behaviors can lead to disastrous outcomes, suppressing all willingness from employees to share their ideas, opinions and, personal feedback.
One of her key concepts is to “respond productively”, namely to:
– listen with intent,
– genuinely thank everyone for their contribution (so they feel encouraged to share their views again)
– act upon some of the suggestions made (so they feel change can happen from their actions)
It is indeed a must to build trust in a team and more broadly in a company and even its stakeholders (suppliers, customers, …)
It is indeed critical to ensure failure is seen as learning, that can be painful indeed, but that let anyone move forward (or at least know where not to move toward).
If you want to know more about personal feedback with this book: The Fearless Organization – Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation and Growth” by Amy Edmondson, use this link https://amzn.to/2YqNuOu