Honest Feedback…Can You Handle It?

June is the month when I sit down with my staff and chat with them in a 1 on 1 relaxed setting about the past year and the year to come.  It is a chance to connect outside the busy day to day activities that consume us while we are at work.  Most importantly, however, it is an opportunity to connect on a human level and understand how they are doing as a person.

If we carve out the time and make sure we are doing this at a big level at least once a year (ideally we are doing this in little bits every day as well) we create an opportunity to deepen and work on our personal relationships with our team.  This is huge for long term success, loyalty and ultimately happiness and fulfillment.  It is also the perfect opportunity for each of us to make the other better through honest, sometimes hard hitting feedback.

I have each team member fill out a self evaluation specific to their job and responsibilities and fill one out myself.  They rate themselves in different areas and I rate them on my  own sheet.  They write down what motivates them to wake up each day and what they view as their strengths and weaknesses.  I do the same.

This self evaluation serves as a conversation starter for me to see where they rate their skills and also as a potential wake up call if we are on very different pages in any of the areas.  It gives me as a leader a window into my team’s self image and awareness and helps me to deeper understand why they may do some of the things the way they are.  It also helps me to identify potential problems due to a false sense of inferiority or superiority in certain areas.

The entire point of this meeting is to help my team work on being more self aware and understanding their life story.  As they improve with these areas, they are able to understand their Why more clearly which is, to me, the most important quality I care about.  If our team does not share the same why we are in trouble.  The need for improvements in sales or coaching or anything else day to day are easy to address.  But if there is a disconnect in why we are here every day then we have a bigger problem.  A problem of clarity on mission.

When an entire team has a clear mission and reason why they are doing what they are doing the results can be amazing.

In order to be sure that everyone is on the same mission, is sharing the same why and experiencing the same connection on the human level, it is imperative that I share my why and ask my team to evaluate me.

This is what I look forward to the most with these sit downs.  I enjoy opening up and making myself vulnerable to my team because I know all the positive things that will come from it.  I am not saying that it is comfortable or easy for me, its hard as hell, but the reward and outcome of doing so is worth it ten times over.

This year my staff talked about how it would be helpful to them if I would improve my clarity in areas such as expectations, timelines etc.  I was so excited when they told me this because not only did they nail a weakness of mine, but it confirmed my own self awareness journey that this was an area I needed work in to be a better leader.  I immediately asked for examples so that I could put in context what sort of lack of clarity I was providing so I could get better.

We all share the same why and part of that why is to get better individually every day so that we can continually improve our service to our customers and their results.  We are all open books when it comes to asking for feedback on our performances and how we can get better.  Whether it is the intern receiving feedback from the CEO or the CEO receiving feedback from the intern.  We all have something to learn from every person and situation that we come in contact with and if we are open to it, we will do great things.

Clarity is an essential characteristic trait of any leader and it is one that I am working on daily with help from my team to guide me on how I am doing.  Without clarity there can be confusion as to who is responsible for what and the expectations that are placed on us.  This can lead to resentment and discontent with the workplace environment ultimately leading to decreased performance.

How clear are you with your team, family or other communities?

I challenge you to ask for honest feedback from your significant other, co-workers or friends and then actually listen and be open to what they are telling you.  They are giving you gold if you can get over your Ego and absorb it.  Fight the urge to react with 5 reasons why they are wrong and be defensive.  Take what they say to heart, improve it and get 1% better every day.

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