Are you ready to make the changes needed to take yourself, your team, or your organization to the next level? Far too often we jump into the process at the wrong starting point. What is the right starting point? Ensuring you have a healthy relationship with feedback. It’s next to impossible to create lasting change without it. Today we are honored to have Alex Vorobieff, author of Transform Your Company: Escape Frustration, Align Your Business, and Get Your Life Back sharing his wisdom with us.
You may be asking yourself, “If a healthy feedback relationship is so important, how can I recognize it? What does it look like?”
The truth is that it is easier to listen for it.
A healthy relationship with feedback exists when you can unemotionally assess the results of your business (also called outputs, feedback, or negative stimuli) and then rationally determine what inputs (or actions) you need to change. It seems simple, and leaders with a healthy relationship with feedback rarely get stuck in the circle of frustration.
Meanwhile, an unhealthy relationship with feedback often shows itself when a leader responds to negative stimuli with negative emotion. The leader’s typical response is a BADJ declarative statement—one expressing Blame, Anger, Denial, or Justification. Alternatively, a non-reaction is just as unhealthy. Not responding to something significant is a silent form of denial. Either reaction prevents the leader from confronting reality.
Leaders with a healthy relationship with feedback tend to respond to negative stimuli with objective, truth-seeking questions. Negative emotion does not distract them from finding the real cause of a problem, or from focusing on their desired outcomes. Their attitudes are, “The sooner we confront reality, the sooner we can achieve the outcomes we want.”
For either relationship, the key identifier is to listen to the leader’s reactions to unexpected feedback. People know how to respond to what they expect will occur, but the unexpected exposes their reality.
Let’s look at some examples, to learn how to listen for a healthy or unhealthy relationship with feedback:
- Negative stimuli: Losing a key customer
- Unhealthy relationship: “They never gave us a fair chance.”
- Healthy relationship: “Why did we lose the customer? What could we have done differently?”
- Negative stimuli: Not hitting a financial target
- Unhealthy relationship: “The budget was unrealistic.”
- Healthy relationship: “What were the key things that did not go according to plan? What will we do differently next time to set targets and achieve them?”
- Negative stimuli: Surprise resignation of a key employee
- Unhealthy relationship: “We are better off without that person anyway.”
- Healthy relationship: “Is this isolated, or is this the tip of the iceberg? Why did this person really leave, and why didn’t we see it coming? Do we need to change anything?”
- Negative stimuli: A missed deadline
- Unhealthy relationship: “If I don’t do things myself, they never get done.”
- Healthy relationship: “What went wrong in the process? What needs to be fixed to prevent this in the future? Is this a process or a people issue?”
How do you react when you receive negative feedback?
If you find yourself falling into the trap of making BADJ statements or using silence to avoid reality, try stepping back to look at the situation objectively. What questions can you ask to identify the real cause of the problem? What would an objective third party conclude about the situation? What can you and your team learn from it, and how can you make better decisions in the future?
Founder and CEO of The Vorobieff Company, Alex Vorobieff is a business turnaround specialist, working to implement Business Alignment Tools for their specific needs. Alex has served as clean-up CFO and president of companies in telecommunications, aviation, aerospace, and real estate development, leading successful turnarounds in as little as three months. He shares his how-tos and techniques throughConfident ROi magazine and his latest book, Transform Your Company: Escape Frustration, Align Your Business, and Get Your Life Back.