So, I’m reading the Harvard Business Review this morning. Their cover story is Why Feedback Fails. I laugh. I laugh because I know why feedback fails in businesses – for the same reason it fails in school and in life in general.
Feedback fails when it’s proscribed – when it has to follow “arbitrary” guidelines, when success only looks like this. Y’all. We’re human beings. And, while all of our brains are wired to reject criticism, aka feedback that’s not tailored to our individual personalities and work styles, all of our brains are not wired the same. So our perceptions are unique to us. They are never objective. I’ll repeat it.
Our brains are never objective – feedback is always based on our perception of facts, not objective reality.
In the intro/blurb in your inbox, you might have noticed that I said “you’d think this is rocket science.” It’s not to me.
The more I coach (and after teaching special ed for 7 years), the more I realize that the most effective way to promote improvement in any human being is to build up their strengths. Period. End of story.
Back when I was teaching special ed, we had a meeting about one of my favorite students. There were 16 people (yes, 16) in that room, including two county department heads. The parent stood us up. So, while we were trying to figure out if the parent would show, we had a conversation about why students need to be good at most things. See, this idea that we have to do everything well starts in elementary school. Ugh.
Right. If you’re familiar with my bio, you know that I’ve owned several businesses, which means I’ve hired and I’ve fired. So I proceeded to ask the professional educators seated around the table the following 2 questions: (1) Have you ever hired anyone? and (2) Have you ever fired anyone?
You guessed it. I’m the only person in the room that had done either. So we had a discussion about why you’d hire someone.
When I hire people – when anyone who has any sense hires anyone – I hire them for their strengths. I know that the strongest candidates will be a fit based on their strengths. And, if they’re dedicated to building their careers, they’ve learned how to deal with their weaknesses.
So let’s look at some of my strengths. First, I get people. Second, I know how to inspire people to do things they don’t believe they can do. Third, I’m creative in my approach to everything I do. Fourth, I’m irreverent.
Now my weaknesses. Following a process. Scheduling. Staying focused on one project at a time. Keeping my mouth shut.
So how do I handle my weaknesses? I hire people to create processes (that maybe I’ll follow) and manage my calendar.
I have accountability partners who are not afraid to go “Whoa, Becky!! What about the 3 things you were focusing on? Where did these 12 other things come from?” Yeah, it’s not easy being my accountability partner – props to Stefanie, Victoria, and Ken.
And, I put my hand in front of my mouth when I’m in a meeting or working with a client, so that I’ll wait to speak up.
Here’s the thing
People don’t hire me because I keep a great calendar, follow good business procedures, or stay focused on the thing right in front of me. And they sure don’t hire me because I keep my mouth shut.
Instead, they hire me because I get them quickly. I know how to inspire them. I know how to make them believe in themselves and their worth. Because my mind goes all over the place, I make connections that other people miss – and those connections are frequently the keys to unlocking a client’s confidence.
And they hire me because I am irreverent. The coaching process is hard, some might even say brutal. We go deep. We shake out the myths that have been running our lives. We face the fears that keep us stuck. And, y’all, a little humor really makes it bearable – I’d even go so far as to say it makes it possible – something I learned from Mary Poppins right here – you know, that spoon full of sugar.
Focus on your strengths
So, please, focus on your strengths. Build them up. Don’t fall into the deadly trap of believing you have to be good at everything to succeed. You don’t. As a matter of fact, people who market themselves as jills-of-all-trades rarely get hired. But that’s a post for another day (or call me and we’ll chat).
And, hey, you introverts out there? That’s your superpower. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
I’m so glad you’re in my community. You inspire me to build on my strengths every day.