We've all experienced it. A colleague raises a finger in your direction at the end of meeting, gesturing for you to hang back as everyone else leaves the room. You gather your things and take a seat in the chair beside him and he says, "I'd like to give you some feedback."
One of two reactions typically occur: glee or fear.
Glee says ...
He finally noticed my work and is interested in my ideas!
Maybe he wants to bring me in on another project, or take me under his wing and help me move up in the company. Today is the day my creativity and hard work
will be noticed and rewarded.
Fear says ...
Wait, did I miss something? Am I in trouble? What's wrong?
Am I not keeping pace? Did I overstep somewhere?
Did someone else send him to talk to me? The second-guessing begins, leaving you to wonder about the merits of everything you've ever done.
"Useless criticism...leaves us with a feeling of being bludgeoned. As a rule,
it is withering and shaming in tone; ambiguous in content; personal, inaccurate, or
blanket in it's condemnations. There is nothing to be gleaned from irresponsible criticism."
A lot of what masquerades as feedback in organizations today fits Cameron’s definition of useless. It's a good thing that she reminds us of a better way.
"Pointed criticism, if accurate, often gives...an inner sense of
'Ah-hah! So that's what's wrong with it.'
Useful criticism ultimately leaves us with one more puzzle piece for our work."
Read that last line again.
Useful feedback reveals resources. It relieves dissonance. It allows the giver and receiver to be momentary equals, standing in service to the project at hand. Useful feedback is unapologetically about the work, leaving egos to sit on the sidelines and fend for themselves. Useful feedback ultimately, well - helps.
My questions to you:
- Is the feedback you give useful or useless?
- When was the last time your feedback genuinely helped and produced tangible results?