Feedback is essential for us to keep pushing forward and be as successful as we can.
Think about when an employee first joined the team and was totally green. How did they become this rock star employee you have now? Did you throw them in at the deep end and expect them to swim immediately?
There’s nothing wrong with being thrown in at a (moderately) deep end – it can be a great way to learn – as long as you are there to throw them a float if they start to sink.
Their float is your feedback, which can be delivered in many ways: Guidance, validation, constructive criticism, celebration, and reinforcement.
But if we go in too heavy or too negative with the feedback, they won’t see the float.
We have a biologically hard-wired brain to avoid or run away from negative feedback (NF). We get defensive. And defences show in many ways. Often, there will be an internal conversation that goes something like, ‘well, that wasn’t what I expected, and now I’m blindsided, embarrassed, and angry.’ Suddenly, that time you have invested in your green employee is wasted; they’re unmotivated and don’t want to change. But it’s not entirely their fault; biologically, it’s super hard to go against our innate instinct to defend ourselves when the feedback we receive is less than helpful. Our brain codes NF as a threat to our identity and how we are seen in our social circles, so we will do anything we can to avoid that NF. That usually means stepping back from the action or job that caused that NF.
And it’s the same when you start something new outside of work. Perhaps you’re building exercise into your routine, which seems a monumental task.
Perhaps we were expecting to see results a lot quicker. Maybe we didn’t really know what we’re doing and pull up sore.
Hello NF!! Suddenly, we have that same internal conversation with ourselves. We tell ourselves we’re doing it all wrong and we can’t change. Suddenly, it’s easier to JUST STOP.
But whether it’s training up a green employee or changing yourself, it takes time, commitment and a deep understanding of how we communicate with others and also ourselves.
But keep going! Keep encouraging that employee! Keep encouraging yourself because change can be a phenomenal and empowering thing to go through!