I often express “Please give me some feedback” in relation to my work. Actually most people I work with express this in some form. Obviously because we want to know if we are doing a good job. But when I ask for feedback, a part of me reflects “What if the feedback I will get is not what I want to hear?”. Sometimes it even prevents me from requesting the feedback or postponing it until later. I may even subconsciously ask in a specific way, that will leave no room for true feedback, but only room for stating what I want to hear. And that’s great, because it can keep me out of those awkward moments where I feel undressed in front of a crowd, because I have just realized that I have been doing something wrong for a long time.
I recently had one of these moments. I asked my team about their perceived value of our regular meetings, as well as the format of the meeting. In an anonymous survey. To my big surprise. Retrospective was the meeting that scored lowest of all, both on value and format. I must tell you that it was tough for me, who claims to be a retrospective geek, and put the most effort into preparing and facilitating the retrospective, compared to the other events.
You can imagine, it was NOT a good feeling. It hurt, and lot of thoughts went trough my head:
- OK, I’ll just let them facilitate the retro themselves (offended like a child).
- I’m the expert on this, I’ll just tell them and continue what I am doing.
- What if I never share the survey results – the team might just forget about it.
I then realized that I was just making excuses to NOT take action on the feedback the team had spent their valuable time giving me. And why was that? Because it was tough! It was scary to not know were this would end? I was afraid that I might find out that the team hates everything I do!
But if I call my self a retrospective geek, and I’m a Scrum Master that works for achieving psychological safety in the team, I know I needed to take this challenge head on! I decided to be curious. I decided that this was NOT about me personally. It was about the situation.
Therefore I designed a retro to explore what prevented us from getting value out of the retro. The details about the retro, I’ll save for another post, but it was the most difficult retro. Both for me as the facilitator, but also for the team. The outcome was, that the team was able to express what they felt, and I learned new ways of how I can support the team even better going forward. Awesome.
So, when you are asking for feedback, are you truly asking for feedback, or do you just want your to hear others say that you are doing a good job? Are you avoiding the difficult situations? Or Ignoring the feedback you do get? Or in other ways miss out on opportunities to learn and grow?
Instead ask yourself “how will you approach the feedback, if it something you don’t like to hear, or makes you uncomfortable?”