The authors of Crucial Conversations so adeptly summarize that when it comes to low performers, bad organizations simply transfer them to another department, good organizations will have managers who eventually deal with them, and great organizations are where everyone – regardless of rank or seniority – hold each other accountable.
So wait, one descriptor of a great organization is where not only managers hold employees accountable, but employees hold managers accountable? Even more so. A great organization is also marked by leaders – even the executive team – who are willing to listen to their people, no matter their “rank” and look for the golden nugget of feedback that may make them and/or their organization better. This is leadership not marked by pride or selfish ambition. This is the leader who always remembers his mission and goals, which are pure, and lays down his ego for the sake of advancing that mission.
The Bible provides a very wise statement when it comes to providing feedback. Matthew 7:3 states, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (ESV translation).
I think one reason why many people hate the traditional performance appraisal is because we lack the skill of how to deliver and receive feedback well. We don’t want to be hurt receiving feedback and we don’t want to hurt someone when delivering tough feedback. That’s good. Starting from a place of compassion and care is actually necessary for this feedback process to work well.
But if we are to be marked as a truly great organization where we all hold each other accountable, how do we ensure this process works and doesn’t backfire when even the best organizations fail at this at times?
We can start by taking the log out of our own eye first.
The remaining verses go like this: “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
At Performance Culture, we put a lot of emphasis on Manager and Leader Training, but the reality is that organizational design still inherently affects feedback. The top-down approach today is still the norm, so if we as employees (or managers with managers above us) are to enter into the murky waters of “coaching up,” then we better have our act together first.
If we think about this with respect to our personal relationships, it’s a lot tougher to disregard someone’s honest feedback about us when they do have a “leg to stand on”. Meaning, we can’t find something they’ve done wrong to justify our ability to dismiss the truth they are speaking.
Now, great organizations will listen to all truthful feedback, especially when spoken in love, even if the deliverer is not perfect. However, the more we can do to minimize our shortcomings first, the better our feedback will be received.