The Keystone of a Feedback Culture: Feedback and the Golden Rule

The Keystone of a Feedback Culture: Feedback and the Golden Rule

In the “Winning with Feedback” workshop we identify the key elements to a feedback culture, and we give leaders the tools to foster such a culture.

A feedback culture is one where everyone:

  • shares the view that feedback is a primary catalyst for personal growth and superior achievement—i.e., they view feedback as a gift—and they have the skills to find that gift.
  • sees feedback as a key to effective teamwork and goal attainment, and they strive to tailor their feedback to the explicit and implicit needs of other team members.
  • is committed to giving feedback that serves the needs and goals of the recipient rather than their own.
  • gives the other party in the feedback conversation the benefit of the doubt. This means that the receiver of feedback operates on the assumption that the giver’s intent is to be helpful, even when the feedback is vague, inaccurate, unfair, or poorly delivered. (When you assume the worst of another’s motives, your mind will automatically close itself to the crucial insights embedded in their feedback.) Giving others the benefit of the doubt also means that when a receiver gets defensive, the giver will choose to cut them some slack because they recognize that the wiring of the human brain often predisposes people to get a little (or very) defensive when criticized.
  • understands that discomfort is normal when it comes to receiving feedback, and they have the capacity to lean into that discomfort and use it as a catalyst for their own growth.
  • knows how to deliver effective and timely feedback to those around them.

Every culture on this planet has a version of the “golden rule”, and creating a feedback culture requires each of us to adopt that golden rule. For example:

  • If you want others to receive your feedback without getting defensive or angry, and if you want them to assume that your intent is to help them—even when you blow your delivery—then go and do likewise.
  • If you want others to cut you some slack when you are caught off guard and get defensive in the face of criticism, then go and do likewise.
  • If you want others to give you feedback that is motivated primarily by a desire to help you reach your goals, then go and do likewise.
  • If you want people to give you feedback in a way that makes you feel respected and valued, then go and do likewise.

Without the golden rule guiding our feedback conversations, feedback just becomes a tool some people will use to seek their own interests above those of their fellow team members and co-workers.

For a clear roadmap for creating a feedback culture, read pages 173-183 of The Feedback Breakthrough.

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