If you have ever been in the following situation, please read further:
- You invited one member of your executive committee for a speech in your internal event. He stayed 10min and left without listening to the rest of the programme.
- You are always invited to meetings by your colleagues where your input is minimal but your presence is required.
- Your colleague has done a great action towards a client
If the answer is yes, then I have question for you. Did you ever tell your EXCOM member, your colleague or your manager that it bothered you or that you have learnt a lot from this positive action?
The annoyance factor
Two weeks ago I listened to a great keynote from Lucas Simons on sustainability in the food sector and he mentioned an interesting point regarding what bothers us. If I would ask you the following question:
“What is the most annoying thing that you often experience in your life?”
Take 10s to think about it. Most likely “collecting dog poops in front of your door step”, “listening to a person talking loud in her/his cell phone next to you” or “seeing a person jumping the line to go faster” would come on top. But what do these exemples have in common? It is done based on self interest, short term and the impact of the “action/annoyance” is for somebody else than the perpetrator. What is true in our personal life is definitely true in our professional life. When a member of the COMEX does not take the time to stay a bit longer to listen to others, he/she acts on self interest and short term (he/she has to go to the next meeting) and the fact that you cannot exchange afterwards is mainly detrimental to you.
Fear of Confronting
When witnessing these phenomena, the most common reaction is the ostrich one. Head buried in the sand, not saying anything to the perpetrator. Often I hear excuses for this behaviour such as “he is my boss so it will come back during my evaluation” or “I don’t want to create a fuzz for such a little thing and I have higher priorities”. There are certainly cultural and historical reasons for not acting. What happens then is that there is no consequence management towards these behaviours that slowly erode all trust among colleagues. And trust is one of the main building blocks for a great place to work to exist. It reminds me of the policy of the “broken windows” that was implemented in NYC and other cities in the late 90s. To fight crimes starts with petty crimes. Of course in professional environment, the first solution is not always to punish but the point here is that if nothing is done on these “little” things, nothing will change overall. This is as much valid for things that are annoying that for things that you find positive. When was the last time that you gave a constructive feedback to a colleague and an action he/she has done well and that you have learnt from?
Give a feedback gift
So let’s give (constructive) feedback continuously to foster development and trust among colleagues. A feedback as simple as: “Hi John, I like your speech the other day, very inspiring. Next time, I would love you to stay a bit longer to exchange with the rest of the audience. It would enable more interaction and more impact with the participants”. Whatever the answer, it creates a base of a dialogue and possible improvement. More elaborated forms of continuous feedback are piloted in large corporations. General Electrics for instance is using an app to structure continuous feedback. But ultimately, it starts by being willing to speak up and accept the unforeseen consequences of this dialogue. Looking in the future, being positive and constructive. It ultimately creates an environment where openness and constant improvement are the norms. Like Stephane Moriou defines fantastically ”Feedback is a gift that reveals talent and unleashes people’s potential”. So take a moment to think about a person you would like to give feedback to. Now stand up and go give the gift :-).
“Feedback is a gift that reveals talent and unleashes people’s potential.”