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My Favorite Things

One of my favorite childhood movies was The Sound of Music. I think it may have been the catalyst for my lifelong love of music.  Maybe I was a romantic at the age of 9, but I can’t think of a more beautiful scene in a movie than where Julie Andrews sings “My Favorite Things.” As she sings “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,” her joy is contagious.

A few weeks ago I attended the meeting where my leadership team gives me feedback from the annual employee engagement survey. This is where they organize all of my leadership improvement opportunities on a whiteboard, review them with me, and request that I make some changes. It takes every bone in my body to keep a pleasant expression on my face as I receive my feedback. I really hate to admit this publicly, but feedback is not one of my favorite things.

But then, I must reflect on reality. I’m the one that thought we needed an employee engagement study. After all, the companies with the highest employee engagement have the best financial performance. I need to love the feedback that I asked my team for.

And you? Do you love feedback?

I haven’t met a leader yet that loves feedback. And if they say they do, they’re not being honest.

But flip the tables. How do we think about the feedback we give to our team? Differently?

Of course. We want to help them become more effective. We want to improve their performance. We sincerely want to grow their capability. Right?

Then why are WE resistant to feedback?

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That is how we improve.”     Bill Gates

My team’s first request of me was simple. With my schedule, it is difficult for them to know when they will get an opportunity to get their issues resolved. Would it be possible for me to share with them my schedule for the month ahead so that they could better plan their activities?

Yes, it would certainly be possible to share that with them. A few minutes preparing an email to them with my schedule once a month could help them be more effective leaders.

What was I afraid of?

Feedback is a gift to a leader– to improve their effectiveness– and serve the team well.

Let’s re-frame our thinking and call it one of our favorite things.

0 Responses

  1. I find receiving feedback can be simpler in creating an environment where the Team feels comfortable enough to share. Every morning one of the first things I do is walk out on the floor (with coffee) and engage in non-work related conversation. The Operations Managers and Supervisors may have already been interacting in a work-related manner. The contrast in having the “big boss” wander out and talk with and about them seems to open the door for Staff to open up. Although at times it makes the Ops Managers and Sups seem like the heavies, I assure that they don’t get “thrown under the bus”. Perhaps this appears as developing friendships….great! As long as we are fair and consistent as Managers, we are creating an environment of sharing, openenss and feeback.

  2. I agree its difficult — and necessary. like excercise but it can hurt more. Personally I can get caught up in “how” feedback is given, expecting people to tip toe around my emotions and insecurities. learning to refilter it so I learn and keep providing those opportunities for feedback.

  3. Excellent point. I also hate feedback but it provides a true ‘wake up call’ in some instances and an opportunity to really connect with your team if you will accept the feedback and address the issues.
    Interesting that you chose a quote form Bill Gates. In his early years at Microsoft he was known for not accepting feedback and actually yelling at his staff and belittling them. Perhaps age and experience has taught him better engagement practices.

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