I had a meeting with a Mastermind group I’m a part of last week, and per our agenda I was on the “hot seat”. What that means is I have control of that day’s meeting. I can use it to solicit help from the group on a productivity blocker I’m experiencing, update them on progress toward a set of goals, or “teach” the group on some topic of interest. For last week’s meeting I decided to use the teaching concept as a way to re-learn and reinforce something I had previously read/learned, and so I let my hand drift across the books in my office and truly allowed it to randomly grab one of the books. Fortunately, I grabbed a good one.
Thanks for the Feedback is all about how to process feedback. The subtitle is: The science and art of receiving feedback well (even when it’s off base, unfair, poorly delivered, and, frankly, you’re not in the mood).
So if we’re judging by the subtitle alone, we can see it’s probably a pretty good book.
Fortunately I had dog-eared and marked up the book when I last read it, so it was easy to grab the key ideas quickly and dump them into a few powerpoint slides. I’m going to walk you through the slides and messages (below each slide) here.
Although the book is about receiving feedback, the authors first cover the fact that “feedback” can be three different things. I noticed a sentence that jumped out at me and I include at the bottom of the slide. We all have experienced this. “The bugle blast of evaluation can drown out the quieter melodies of coaching and appreciation”. Very wise words, and a cautionary note for leaders.
We are great at “wrong-spotting” in any feedback. Almost any feedback we receive can be “wrong” in some sense. Maybe the deliverer is missing some context, or is misunderstanding data, or whatever. What we tend to do is isolate and focus on what is “wrong”. The job of the feedback receiver is to temporarily park the “wrong” while you listen to the full feedback and focus on understanding the full breadth of the message. What’s right about the message?
Luckily, I found a helpful online study guide for the book, which enabled me to find these graphics. The “Gap Map” shows us that “how we come across” can impact the way that feedback is processed on both sides. If you look at the five boxes, you see that you are in some control of the first two boxes, but the other three are perceived by the person delivering feedback. Being aware of these attitudes is important. I included the 4/5 example in the slide because this is a common problem in evaluations.
This nets out the key things to focus on as you consider feedback. The slide is self-explanatory.
Finally, the authors ran across an Irish graphic design agency that – like all agencies – often receive client feedback that was odd and difficult to take action on, so they started the fun process of taking some of those weird feedback examples and create a visual to accompany the feedback. Various other agencies joined in the fun. Here are a few examples:
People grow when they learn, and learning is tied to many things – practicing curiosity (See Grazer’s book here), having a learner’s heart, engaging in conversations, asking the right questions, and so forth. But certainly one of them is the ability to receive, process, and act upon received feedback.
Finally, let me address what some of you are thinking: “My God – don’t you have enough to do without doing stuff like this?”. I actually didn’t spend more than a few minutes to create this deck, and the process of “re-learning” these important lessons made it more than worth it. If you want to learn something, teach it.