Feedback: The New F Word

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“Can I give you some feedback?” 

Does anyone ever look forward to a conversation that starts with that question? Can you imagine saying that to your partner, your friends, or to your kids? Nevertheless, it’s one of the most common things we’re asked at Refound: “How can we create a culture of feedback?” 

We’re entering the post-feedback era in the workplace. Feedback—or whatever we thought feedback was—is not working. There’s plenty of solid research on point. Feedback givers tend to be unreliable and faulty and feedback is rarely translated into useful action. Most importantly, it does not, in its current form, help people learn and develop a model of excellence at work. 

Take a quick mental inventory. How many of the people managers in your company would you trust to deliver real, constructive, and humane feedback? 

10%? 

1%? 

The reality is that with how busy we all are, even the best people leaders struggle to deliver feedback conversations well. The headwinds are far more powerful than we want to admit (e.g. desire to be liked, unconscious bias, not enough time or reflection for a real conversation). It’s not because people leaders don’t want to be better communicators. It’s because they don’t have a framework or relevant personal experience for what great looks like or that great is even possible. 

So if not feedback, then what? The root cause for wanting a culture of feedback is a desire for people, colleagues, managers, and leadership to have the (cap)ability to start real, human, everyday conversations. That’s it. Real. Everyday. Conversations. What if feedback wasn’t an event? A thing we had to do on top of all the other important parts of running a team or a business. What if we focused on how we talk to each other everyday, at 10:32 on a random Tuesday morning? What if all we did was become really great at those human moments? What would that world look like? What could you accomplish as a people leader? A CEO? A business?

We believe that a people leader who communicates with his/her team in a way that is human, continuous, and focused on development has the transformative skill that will lead the organization into the future of work. It’s a world beyond awkward, hurtful and unhelpful interactions, and it will change the lives of the people in your business, and the business itself.

No feedback required.

Jonathan Raymond