Feedback is vital for learning and improving, as much in business as in life. As one very successful business author once said, “The major difference between the most and least successful executives is the latter’s lack of awareness. Successful executives are critical of their own performance. Unsuccessful executives are critical of the performance of others.”
Many managers are not aware of the kind of suffering and problems they create around them and for their employees until they really cause irreparable harm. The most foolish managers are the ones that lack effective personal feedback practices and completely reject having someone tell them how to be, act, and manage people better. Their motto simply is: “My way, or no way”. If someone doesn’t like their way of doing things, they can leave.
No manager can build an organization or team that is different from him or her. If there is a resistance to feedback within the organization, managers must look at themselves and their views on personal feedback. If you, as manager, don’t seek regular feedback about your actions, behaviors, and style, your team will mirror your values. The worst part is that managers who reject personal feedback, normally enforce it for everyone else.
That’s the difference between two equally committed-to-improvement organizations, but one with strong and valuable performance information and exact measures, and another one with very frail measurement systems. The difference is that both understand the theory, but only one applies it. Within the organization with a frail system, employees avoid talking about the serious issues with their managers. The staff’s communication level usually depends on the manager’s mood, and although these managers may say they wish to create a learning organization, they avoid learning how the people around them perceive them.
Yes, personal feedback can be harsh; it can be truly painful, however, in the level, frequency, and sensitivity that we open up, or shut out, to it personally as managers, our team and organization will welcome it or reject it too. This is the key to identify if an organization has the potential to grow and improve, or is destined to disappear.