On Feedback

Company culture is a living, breathing organism you have to nurture. In a world where input and recognition are more important to today's workforce than money and title, a culture that values growth and development is well positioned to recruit and retain the best talent. Personal development starts with feedback.

The key to becoming expert at giving feedback is making it habitual and insisting on receiving it in return. You have to give feedback at every one-on-one meeting you have, whether with your manager or your direct report. 

The key to becoming expert at giving feedback is making it habitual and insisting on receiving it in return.

Everyone worth a damn needs their manager's support and wants insightful information about their performance. Your responsibility as a manager is to empower your team to become their best selves. When you deliver specific, constructive feedback on a regular basis to your team members, and create an environment where that same level of feedback is flowing back to you, you dramatically increase the team's likelihood of achieving superb performance.

There are significant benefits to giving two-way feedback at every one-on-one. Most crucially, you eliminate surprise. Managers and team members know where they stand, what's working, and what isn't. As a result performance reviews become a non-event, and ideally can be minimized to the lightest exercise possible. Meanwhile, performance patterns emerge quickly. Crucially, all this builds trust. Rather than awkwardly acknowledging weaknesses twice a year, the manager (and by extension the company) is constantly demonstrating that they care about personal development.

Never forget that positive feedback is absolutely necessary and should be delivered just as frequently. I need to be given thanks and told my contribution is important. The challenge is that giving positive feedback is relatively easy, and it is, unfortunately, easily forgotten. Personally, I like the discipline of trying to pair a measure of constructive criticism with legitimate praise. And vice versa. 

All great managers prioritize developing their team members, and all growth businesses need them to develop as quickly as possible. Consistently providing constructive two-way feedback develops intrinsically motivated employees that are invested in each other, and is arguably the most valuable investment of time a manager can make. Feedback can and should be the cornerstone of any world-beating company culture.

ManagementJesse Hertzberg