Feedback is a Gift

Posted on March 17, 2022

picture of a building with a sign that says who you are becoming is more important than who you've been

Today’s Morning Buzz is by Melissa Cantarero Weiss, Deputy City Administrator, for Wauwatosa, WI. Connect on LinkedIn and Twitter.

What I’m Reading: Diana Gabaldon’s Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone

What I’m Watching: Madam Secretary on Netflix

What I’m Listening to: the podcast We Can Do Hard Things

Let’s talk about feedback. Leading up, leading across, and leading down are opportunities we all have to give great feedback to others regardless of the position we are in or if we are formally supervising personnel. Feedback is mission critical because it is how we grow and evolve in our careers.

I recognize that not everyone is comfortable in this zone and it takes practice to be great at giving feedback, just like anything else. If you find some additional feedback practice would benefit you personally or your organization as a whole, I encourage you to find a cohort of colleagues that like feedback and practice with each other. Actions become habit when we do them repeatedly. I work with a team that loves to give notes – both positive and opportunities for improvement. It is our work culture now and we thrive in this environment.

Adam Grant says, “In many collaborations, feedback is optional. In great teams, everyone is expected to give notes. Criticism doesn’t mean the work isn’t good enough. It may even be great. It just means there’s room for improvement. The goal isn’t perfection. It’s excellence and growth.”

Feedback is such an important part of the high performing work culture we are building here in Wauwatosa that we have feedback specifically called out in our employee and management performance expectations. Here are a few examples for all employees from our work expectations:

  • Encourage and support team members by giving feedback and sharing information.
  • Confront and communicate about challenges in a professional and constructive manner.
  • Give and receive feedback honestly and professionally. Adjust performance accordingly.

For our managers, we also expect that they build feedback loops into their work and implement changes based on the feedback they receive. Here are a few examples from our work expectations:

  • Seek and encourage feedback from own team frequently. Apply changes based on feedback to improve service, processes, and relationships.
  • Provide consistent and frequent feedback.

When our employees give great feedback, we get better as individuals and as an organization – that is certainly something to strive towards, but it can be hard to get there.

Friends, I ask you to take a moment and sit with this – sharing opportunities for growth and improvement at work is not a criticism of you. We can all do better. We can all be better. Our work can always improve in some way. Often when someone offers you feedback, it is to improve an outcome, improve a relationship, or improve our work in some way. Sounds good, right?

Take time to consider how your personal and continuous growth serves your career, your team, you personally, and the community you serve. How can you make growth and improvement a workplace habit and part of a thriving culture?

A few years ago, we had a coach in to offer training that covered topics on professional communication, presentations, and performance coaching. The trainer shared a thought that is always front of mind even three years later – feedback is a gift. It is something we offer to people as a gift and something we should receive as a gift.

How we choose to respond is up to us. How we choose to adapt and evolve is up to us. How we choose to grow is up to us. When we choose to accept that gift or not, remember, others benefit from our growth, too. Your colleagues benefit and the community or organization you serve benefits in addition to your own professional development. Imagine how great we could be with a little more feedback in our lives.

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