This morning I read an article on HBR about why managers are uncomfortable giving feedback to employees.
The stats were not great! 69% of managers stated they were uncomfortable when communicating in general. Whilst 37% were uncomfortable when giving direct feedback/criticism. How can this be?
Ouch! You don’t have to be Einstein to work out the effect that must have on productivity and efficiency in a business and therefore the effect it has on a company’s profit.
Not to oversimplify things but I think it’s essential to look at our intention when we give feedback. If our intention is to ensure a staff member does not repeat a certain behaviour we may feel like just telling them how it is – no holds barred. But we know that modern leadership studies would suggest that we shouldn’t provide feedback that way so we either don’t provide any feedback and whinge behind their backs or we go softly softly not feeling congruent with our true emotions.
I think one way to ensure you are congruent is to say what you are feeling and your intentions up front. Eg: “Harry I am really pissed off at the moment. My intent is not to make you feel bad but I do want you to consider what we talk about and correct it if we agree that it’s an issue”.
Intention is so powerful. I often will say to people ‘what is the intent of having that conversation?” That simple question has people reconsidering whether they have a conversation or whether they change the conversation because often the outcome you are after may not even be possible. For instance, if my intention is to get a person to change the way they think I may be pushing sh*t uphill. I may be better to give them a checklist of things to do each day so they still complete the tasks required of them.
Do it for yourself! Next time you think you have to have a difficult conversation with someone ask your self “what is my intention?” “Is that intention going to get the result I want?” “What do I really want that person to do differently?”
If as leaders we can not have these conversations as stated in the article I have grave concerns. I think it’s critical to step up, understand your intentions, and provide the feedback necessary to run an effective and profitable business. It’s about having a greater impact when you communicate.