“You could do this job. I like you. You would fit well here. I am not hiring you, however. You’re attempting to be a slacker and take the easy way out. You’re a smart capable kid and I refuse to enable you being less than you can be. Get back to school, finish your degree, then come back and see me.” With those words and a handshake from a massive bear-claw of a hand, a young man was kicked out of the Motorola hiring managers office.
I was told that story recently by a participant in our Global Leadership Training program by a senior leader of leaders in a multi-billion dollar global manufacturing business. That “no punches-pulled” feedback changed the direction of a young man’s life. While there was no evidence to support it, he has always presumed that his parents must have somehow bribed the hiring manager even though they did not know him.
In some companies there is an epidemic of nice. What needs to be said goes unsaid. As a result, people, teams and businesses miss opportunities to improve. Group think dominates teams and the divergent thinker is tagged as not a team player. Political correctness makes important discussions cans of worms that remain unopened. The thought that somehow we have an inalienable right to not have our feelings hurt creates an artificial cocoon that keeps important feedback out.
Feedback is essential to growth and improvement. Too often important feedback is so watered down that it is either misinterpreted, unheard or meaningless.
Communication is: message sent = message received and it is the responsibility of the sender.
There is a line between giving useful important feedback and being a jerk. It starts with intent. Two important points to remember. Good feedback is based on a positive intent to help someone grow and improve. It is pertinent and specific to something within the persons ability to change. Good feedback is delivered in a way that respects the receiver’s dignity.
Developing more leaders is a top leadership priority. Seek unvarnished feedback, act on it and learn to give it in a way that grows others. I’ll take effective kindness over ineffective nice every time. I’m the Outsider and that’s what I think.