Give honest feedback to others. (Please!)

Okay, we’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: honest feedback is a gift, and a leader’s absolute responsibility. 

None of us is perfect.  We all have things we need to work on.  A leader’s job is to help people continue to grow and maximize their potential, which includes helping them recognize their unique developmental opportunities.  As obvious as this sounds, it is astonishing how many leaders stop short of having these all-important conversations.  Instead, many focus exclusively on the positive (because that’s the easier conversation) and paint an incomplete picture of reality.

Here’s the thing. When we avoid straight-talk about the “other stuff,” the behavior continues and our frustration festers until it gets so maddening (or so counterproductive) that we blow up or it becomes a “performance crisis.”  Meanwhile, the person is completely unaware of the issue and is blindsided by the intensity of the feedback when it finally arrives.  That’s not fair.

In leadership – as in life – we do a disservice to others by not speaking our truth.

When handled well, these honest conversations can be incredibly impactful for a person, opening their eyes to areas where they can be even more effective and giving them something tangible to work on.  These moments can also deepen your relationship as you demonstrate your care and commitment to their continued success.

Today, ask yourself if there is someone you’ve been avoiding giving feedback to, and why.  If you’re intimidated because you aren’t sure how to deliver the message without harming the relationship, seek the advice of a colleague, coach, HR professional or one of the many books and articles available to help, such as Crucial Conversations.