This personal story shows the impact of not sharing feedback in a timely way.
Give Feedback Originally posted April 18, 2011
Many leadership lessons learned come early, long before business people take the mantle of leadership on for themselves. When I was a teen I had the opportunity to work for my dad on the farm from time to time; however, when I turned 16 I found my first “real” job at the local small-town drug store.
I did the usual stuff – stocked shelves, dusted, ran the cash register. I was 16, so I talked to my friends when they came in and may have been less than industrious when it came to activities to do with my time when the to-do list was complete. I learned a few things and did my job.
Then came my first review.
Turns out my manager wasn’t thrilled with me. To this day I can’t tell you what it was that I wasn’t doing right. What I can tell you is that whatever it was, it wasn’t that big of a deal, it was something I could change immediately, and my manager had held onto the information that I wasn’t doing it right for months.
I quit within two weeks.
At 16 I knew what I’m assuming that manager likely doesn’t know to this day – there should never be a surprise when it comes to a performance review. As leaders, we’ve just got to give it people straight. They deserve that.
And if you’re not a manager, it goes the other way too. Waiting to share your gripes on a manager feedback form when you haven’t had the conversation about how that person can improve isn’t very fair, either.
While the incident was frustrating at the time, it taught me a valuable lesson early in my working life. Be open. Be honest. Be courageous. Tell people what they need to know to be successful. Holding on to constructive feedback because the conversation will be difficult hurts the other person in the long run. And if they leave, it can hurt you, your team, and your company, too.
Be brave. Give feedback.
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Post script: For more information on how to give feedback, check out this old-but-not-dated article from Fast Company, How to Give Good Feedback.