A: When it serves the giver more than the receiver!
A study by Chak Fu Lam of University Michigan found that overall performance diminishes when the frequency of feedback is too often
Are you suffering from Feedback Fatigue?
Research shows that leaders that seek feedback are substantially more effective than those that don’t. What they do is openly and directly seek feedback from across a wide range of perspectives and they chose to accept the feedback with a ‘thank you for the feedback’ attitude whether it’s positive of negative. This represents mature behavior that they role model with the purpose of cascading this way of operating throughout their office culture
As with all behaviors that are used and abused – there is a dark side. The dark side of ‘all feedback is a gift’ has led to us creating a culture that is obsessed with ‘the gift that keeps on giving’, encouraging a feedback culture of open door and open all hours, any time, any place any where.
The challenge we now face is that many people have become desensitized to the feedback they are receiving. The have become saturated and often stressed by the frequency at which they are being force-fed feedback – good and bad.
They are suffering from Feedback Fatigue
The gift that keeps on giving?
Yes feedback is a gift but when it’s misplaced or mistimed then we have to question its value. All it’s actually doing to the receiver then is piling on the pounds of emotional baggage they have to manage and maintain while they are already trying to keep up with a very demanding workload.
Feedback works when it creates an emotional charge that triggers new thinking leading to new behaviour.
When you are suffering from feedback fatigue your batteries are running on empty – no charge, no learning – no point!.
Whether the feedback comes from a 360 review or another person offering us their wisdom, if we are feedback fatigued then we are just going through the motions, nodding but not receiving.
No matter how great the intentions are of the giver, or even the richness of the message – if the receiver can’t receive – its wasted wisdom. Stop, its no longer a gift.
Sometimes feedback is used to inform part of a coaching process, or maybe its a year-end performance review or then again it could be an executive team doing some team building. I have worked with some clients who get such regular feedback, and it’s really good feedback, that they can predict who will say what and why. Even too much ‘lovely feedback’ can become the curse of lovely! Whats the point?
To be honest – I see this as a major drain on energy, motivation and momentum
Who gave out the free pass with permission to give friendly feedback?
I am sure you have been there, you are going about your business only to be interrupted by a well-intentioned individual who feels the need to give you their version of ‘how to do it better’ at that moment because it feels like the right thing for them to do (Yep, in that moment, it’s all about them!)
Can we really complain; after all we have created the culture that grew the monster so we can’t complain when it bites us. (unless its Luis Suarez!)
While we want to accept every learning opportunity – we have to realize that not all feedback fuels our learning engine – some just shuts it down in its tracks.
We have become conditioned to smile and receive all feedback with good grace – “thank you”, what we really want to say is “not now thanks”.
We definitely want feedback on the agenda but only if it’s fueling our learning engine
Let’s agree to take a more healthy and balanced approach to feedback.
When we are receiving feedback:
- We can take responsibility for our growth by having clear boundaries around feedback – say what works and what doesn’t
- Start by being honest about what would serve your development best with regards giving and receiving feedback. Educate those around you about what elements of your behavior, skills or events you would specifically like input on. It might be certain events only like progress meetings or town halls.
- If it’s unsolicited, politely interrupt and explain while you value feedback, you would be better positioned to receive it at a later stage. You will contact them when your mind and your energy is ready to hear their wisdom in a full and meaningful way
When we are giving feedback:
- Look at the receiver first. Really look. Check if their tank is already full of feedback, and if it is, consider holding off and allowing them know that if they ever wanted a quick chat in the future you would be willing to share some feedback.
- You can trust effective managers and leaders to know the importance of feedback so trust them to come and get it when they need it
- Keep the feedback short and to the point. Tell them what you noticed (real experience), what the impact was and would they like your opinion on how to do it differently
- Be flexible on how best to give feedback – it will be different depending on the individual (remember empathy and compassion)
Relationships flourish when feedback is given and received. Respect its power and be responsible for it turning on the learning engine, not turning it off.
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