Have we established a culture in business of avoiding conversations in which we have some critical feedback to give to a colleague?
There seems to be an accepted method of ‘sugar coating’ feedback criticism by sandwiching it between two bits of positive feedback – the ‘Shit Sandwich’. Employees smell this a mile off. I do, every time.
A more authentic approach requires us to take a moment to distinguish the difference between our colleague’s intention and the impact (or result) they had. We can then begin a conversation that can do three things:
- Acknowledge their intention – what they were hoping for, the difficulties they were navigating, whose interests they were seeking to meet, the ways in which their approach was considered, creative or well-intended. If you don’t know what they intended, ask them to help you to understand.
- Share your perspective on the impact, unintended result or problem that occurred as a result of what they did or didn’t do. Test for their understanding of this, and their perspective on it.
- Collaborate on ways to approach the same situation in the future in such a way as to get a result that more closely matches what they intended.
The conversation (like all conversations) is not linear. Play around with it, but ensure you spend time with all three.
We all want to fulfil on our intentions, that’s why they are our intentions. So colleagues will be open to our willingness to point to the gap between intention and impact, and support them to close it.