Another month has gone by and I marvel at all the new things I am learning as I continue to delve into Brené Brown's book, dare to lead. For this month's blog post I am going to continue to talk about what it looks like to live into our values in the workplace. One of the areas where people in the workplace will often fall out of living into their values is when performance is being evaluated; or when feedback is being given or received. The more I engage with people on social media and watch what other people are posting, I see an underlying thread of many people who fear they are not measuring up to what the expectations of society/other people are. Why are there so many of us that are having the same struggle? How does this struggle manifest itself on the job-site or in the offices around the country? How can business owner's help their employees be the best they can be?
I recently came across a post on Facebook that talked about healing trauma and how the body stores trauma if it is not processed and dealt with. Then later on in life, this trauma comes out in many areas of life - in health issues, in mental health issues etc. This info of course intrigued me and made me wonder how come there are so many mental health issues, health issues, digestive issues, brain issues. Now you are probably thinking what does this have to do with feedback. Brené states that, "unfortunately, many of us were raised in families where feedback came in only one of two packages - shame or blame." Some fortunate few were given productive and respectful feedback, but I am beginning to think that there are more people out there who struggle to be themselves and to be proud of who they are. Another quote I saw somewhere, (but don't know where or the exact wording), went something like this, "If a caregiver shames a child, the child does not stop loving the caregiver; they stop loving themselves."
Then this same child grows up and enters the business world where they are met with performance evaluations, or they need to receive feedback on an ongoing project, or any other form of critique that happens all the time in the work world. And they cannot handle it, or they don't handle it well. Or those same people are the ones to provide the evaluation and have never been taught how to effectively and kindly deliver any form of negative evaluations.
If you are the person who has to give any form of evaluation of another worker, how do you know if you are ready and able to give someone effective feedback? Brené has spent years working to help people live authentically and to live into their values wherever they are, so I am going to share her checklist called the engaged feedback checklist. This helps you as the supervisor or owner of the company or even co-worker to co-worker know how to give appropriate evaluations of another person.
To be a person who is aligned to their values the tips given in the chart will help you as you talk with anyone about some area where another person is failing or struggling. As well as writing articles for this blog spot, I also work part time as a substitute teacher and one thing that we were always told in our training as a teacher was that we needed to make sure that we couched a negative between two positives to help the child and the parent cope effectively. Another thing we were encouraged to do was to sit beside the child. Brené states, "sitting across from someone ... is a representation of a power differential." When you are beside someone it feels more like you can work together to solve a problem. It feels more like someone is by your side to help you get over the hurdle.
Alternatively, whomever is giving the feedback needs to remember to be facilitating a space of safety, where questions are asked and clarification is sought on the issues that are on the table. As adults, we still desire to know what we are doing well, so make sure that you can acknowledge the person's strengths and point out what they are doing well at. Then you can show them how they can use their strengths to improve in the areas where they have challenges.
However, to be an effective leader there are times that feedback could hurt another person if delivered in the wrong manner. If the leader comes across as blaming and criticizing the worker for areas they have failed, it will put the other person on the defensive and cause them to shut down and be unable to effectively process the feedback anyways. The leader needs to be respectful and honest and allow space for the person to have feelings when hearing the feedback. It might even mean that you allow the person time to process and come back at another time to continue the conversation if necessary.
Everyone one of us will be required to give feedback at times and to receive feedback as well. Some people are good at this and others are not. All of us have to learn to take feedback, no matter how it is delivered, because mastery at anything will require feedback. So be kind when delivering feedback and be brave enough to listen when receiving feedback. Work at knowing that in the feedback there is something valuable.