Vetaal in the workplace – Importance of Feedback

There lived a king who had only one son, on whom he doted. No one, not even the ministers and his tutor, was permitted to utter a word of correction to the prince whenever he did something wrong and the prince grew up completely spoilt. He grew up with a lot of flaws but the worst was his arrogance and selfish disobedience. He refused his lessons saying he will be the future king and had no reason to learn like a common man.

The king turned a blind eye to the whole process. As the prince grew to be a man, his ministers, subjects and the kingdom feared him. His outrageous public conduct incited the people to take action. No one wanted the prince to become the next king. Their fear made them revolt and they refused to allow the prince to become their king. 

The King heard all the complaints and the advice of his ministers. He was a good and just ruler and therefore called the prince and as punishment exiled him from the kingdom.

The prince was shocked. He did not understand what was his mistake.

Vetaal’s Riddle – Who is really at fault? The prince for being so callous about his role? The king for allowing his love to blind him? The ministers and tutors who failed in their roles due to fear?

From the blind Dhirithirashtra in the epic Mahabharata to the everyday manager in our Organisations, what kind of a prince do we create in our teams? Duryodhana is the product of the silence and spoil of the kuru elders. Bhishma’s silence as Draupadi suffered Dhirithirashtra’s indulgence when the Pandavas were not given their rightful share all point to one thing – NO FEEDBACK.

How can leaders clarify expectations, help their team learn from their mistakes and build their confidence?

“To become more effective and fulfilled at work, people need a keen understanding of their impact on others and the extent to which they’re achieving their goals in their working relationships. Direct feedback is the most efficient way for them to gather this information and learn from it.” ~ Ed Batista

Constructive feedback is the most effective tool in the leadership kit to achieve this. Then why did the king not do it? What about the ministers? 

Think about it

  • What was the best feedback you have received in your life?
  • If you make a list of things you wish to receive feedback on what would they be?

Why is giving feedback so difficult?

Why is it difficult to tell our teams, our employees (even our spouse or friends) that something is not right and that things need to change?

1. The defensive reaction is scary

We are worried about what the reaction might be. What if he or she gets angry? What if they cry and shout? What if they go on and on about why they are right and you are wrong? What if they take it personally?

Well, they are supposed to take it personally.

Feedback is personal, and a defensive reaction is to be expected. It is what makes us human. These defensive reactions make people ride the feedback journey from the sidelines, brushing just around the edges and never entering into the deep waters.

2. Feedback should not be reserved only for the negative

The next reason why feedback is so difficult is that most people focus only on the negative feedback. Giving authentic positive feedback is equally hard.

“Great job Avyay. You are a great asset to the team.” This is sweet but useless feedback.

According to Shari Harley, keynote speaker, coach, and CEO of Candid Culture, there are only two reasons to give feedback—to encourage someone to either change or replicate a behavior.

All other feedback is not feedback. They may be opinions, comments, or judgments.

6 Steps to effective feedback

The following six steps will ensure that every feedback is effective and that the receiver works toward the change. Inspired by Shari Harley’s eight-point pattern, these are a few steps to follow:

Step 1: Set the stage

Ask for permission to give feedback, set the stage on what you want to talk about, and establish the context right. People will thank you when they know what to expect from the conversation.

Step 2: Describe the example

This is the behavior that you have observed, for which you are giving the feedback. Being specific and recent will allow your receiver to relate objectively.

Step 3: Specify the effect of behavior

Share what the consequence of his or her behavior is and how it impacts the organization or the team. Be specific.

Step 4: Initiate the Change

Make a suggestion or provide alternatives. Allow discussion at this stage. Ask questions, listen, and empathize. Encourage the person to develop an action plan.

Step 5: Build the commitment

Establish the next steps, a plan for the change, and how it will be measured. These steps require total commitment from the receiver and thus making it a dialogue.

Step 6: Thank your participant

Say thank you to close the feedback and show your appreciation for the positive response.

Being receptive to feedback creates amazing multiple possibilities and opportunities to grow – Are you receptive yet?

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