Organizations die when people don’t give each other feedback.
I saw this happen at a girl’s lemonade stand. One six year old founder, let’s call her Suzie, topped her sweet drinks with a lemon rind. Her cofounder, let’s call her Jessie, clearly saw the rind as an abhorrent addition to the drink. Tensions grew. Both of their attitudes became sour and Jessie – in a Hail Mary attempt to balance the metaphorical PH of their relationship – dumped a clump of sugar into Suzie’s drink. A fight broke out. Hair was pulled. And mom closed down the lemonade stand.
We can’t let lemonade debacles threaten our organizations.
We must create a structure to radically enhance two-way feedback between managers and employees.
Managers: conclude your 1on1 meetings with two-way feedback. Ask your coworkers for feedback on one thing you are doing well and on one thing you could improve in a particular facet of your work (the facet could be team process, delegation, leading meetings, communication, research, a specific project, etc).
This structure works for a few reasons.
First, the positive feedback helps you tailor your management style to your coworkers’ unique personalities. One coworker might say, “I like when you affirm my strategy as sound,” while another may prefer a more direct and blunt approach. Positive feedback helps you realize the distinct preferences of your coworkers. If you don’t ask what they like, you are just guessing.
Second, the improvement feedback is more effective because it is targeted. If you ask for general feedback, your coworker will be overwhelmed as they process every recent interaction they’ve had with you. Targeted feedback, on one specific facet of work, makes the question more manageable.
Cycling through these topics allows you to revisit them on a regular basis. You now have a structure to improve your management skills.