The late Ed Koch, New York City’s mayor in the ‘80s, was famous for asking his constituents on the street, “How’m I doin’?” It was informal, genuine (as genuine we can expect from a politician :)), asking about his performance.
As we’ve moved on 30 years later, I miss that idea. That feedback can be simple, real, and it doesn’t have to break a person’s ego, if bad. It can certainly improve someone’s performance, engagement, or simply their day when it is good.
Bottom-line is we all need it. We all want it. We also get it through formal and informal channels. But do we seek it? Do we manage it? Do we create a culture of feedback?
Feedback – The Delivery
I’ve been teaching a lot of leadership courses lately. The one thing, I think, that truly separates an average leader from an inspiring leader is the ability to give feedback to anyone. That means managing up or down, and saying the things that need and should be said.
Every leadership class I teach, we talk about feedback and conceptually create a piece of feedback for someone on their team. The kicker is I always make them say the words to a practice partner in the room. It is fascinating to watch extremely intelligent people stumble with lots of ‘umms’, the direct eye contact gets lost, and the words come out all jumbled. And this is for positive feedback, which we would assume to be easy to say (of course that is the reason we practice in class).
This comes from this world of metrics we created to help us tactically manage all that needs to be done. But at the end of the day, it is still people who execute all the tactics and we need to let them know how they are doing.
But How are you Doing?
Something else that separates the mediocre from the amazingly effective is the ability to ask for feedback and take it. This is what will create that informal feedback culture in your work environment. Humbly ask everyone you work with, “What is working for you, and what could I do better for you?” Be open to hearing it yourself from not just your leaders, but your employees and peers. Encourage your team to ask this as well.
The thing with feedback is that it is someone’s opinion, key word OPINION, of your performance. Also remember it is not a comment on YOU, but your PERFORMANCE. You are free to agree with it or not, and it is your choice to do something with it. But always thank someone for telling you their opinion, even if you did not ask for it (Which can be difficult). It is risky for them to be candid, so appreciate that ability to be vulnerable.
If you are not currently doing this, a change will be difficult. Human behavior and habits take time to develop. Like any change, it will be clunky, met with skepticism at first, but eventually it will become natural and a positive expectation of the group. Let's set realistic expectations, it will take weeks to make this a habit. (Sorry, wish I could say a day. If you've been on a diet you know what I am talking about. :))
So How’m I doing?
I am always open to your feedback on The Customer Service Gurus. Please let us know what we are doing that works for you, and what we could do better. I walk the talk. You?
Season of Gratitude
One final note, as we prepare for Thanksgiving in The States next week. I am profoundly thankful for this year in business. I am grateful for anyone who reads my blog (You're out there, right? :)). I am grateful for the many people I’ve met: formally through client projects, classes I’ve taught, networking, or more informally through LinkedIn or other channels. I am grateful for the positive energy we’re creating to try to do good things in the world. You inspire me. I’m mostly grateful for the power to change and that every day we each have an opportunity to get closer to our full potential and bring it out in others. That is worth a slice of turkey or two next week!
Be well, safe travels, and we hope you thoroughly enjoy this holiday season.