Giving and receiving honest input is a sensitive point for many people for two very simple reasons: a) most people are afraid of being criticised b) they don’t want to insult and hurt others, and c) while many companies make a show of being positive, when it comes to the real feedback, most of it is negative. So no wonder people get nervous when they hear about needing to give honest feedback at their work.
In order to create a habit between you and your co-workers of giving each other honest feedback you need to ensure the following:
a) everyone needs to understand that feedback is just as much about the positive as it is about the negative. Actually (although this is for later on in this journey) you need to go a step deeper, which is to get them to realise that it’s never about positive or negative, simply about what isn’t working and what is working.
b) that the whole process of giving and receiving honest input is not seen as a big deal. Although they may not realise it or admit to it, most people are scared that it’s going to be an emotional minefield. And that it’s going to swallow up vast amounts of time they don’t have. You need to show them that it’s easy, that it doesn’t take up much time when you know how, and that it has an immediate benefit.
c) that your team members experience first-hand how the trust, mood and motivation increases when honest input is given.
d) And last but not least it needs to be clear that it is safe to be honest. A lot of people have learned to conceal what they really think out of fear of sounding negative, of insulting others or of triggering emotional reactions. Only when your co-workers see that honest input is received without anyone getting hurt or angry, only then will they trust that it’s OK to give it. If you want it to become embedded in your team culture, your team will need support and training to trust their ability to do it before they will initiate feedback themselves.
In fast-moving environments there is a tendency to want to achieve targets quickly, to be efficient and minimise honest input, which leads to tunnel vision and can create disengagement and tension. Learning how and when to invite honest input in such a way that it supports the process will speed up your progress and create a sense of partnership and engagement with your co-workers.