Breakfast of Champions

Feedback is the breakfast of champions.

For years that little refrain has run through my head with two meanings. One, I actually buy into it so thanks to Ken Blanchard for dropping this little bon mot. Two, it reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut and anything that reminds me of Kurt is okay with me.

Yet if feedback is the breakfast of champions a lot of us are going hungry

In the past few weeks I've expereinced several scenarios where someone or some team was lacking feedback. They weren't getting the message. The information that might have made them more successful was available but someone didn't want to give it to them.

Why do we not get this critical this information?

Of course a popular notion is that management is by and large responsible for this gap unable to discern good from poor performance or at the very least unwilling to challenge same. There may be some truth to this but like many HR professionals I try to shy away from absoutes and stereotypes.

There's a lot of grey in the world today folks: we call that nuance.

So let's look at things a little differently. Rather than point to manager's failings and to rant once more about what they need to do let's start at home. Forget about the things we can't control. Let's work on the something we really can manage – ourselves.

Have you actually had an adult discussion with your boss about the need for feedback? If not the ball's in your corner.

You recieve feedback when others trust you know how to

What I'm advocating is that since we need feedback to be more successful if we're not getting that then let us pick up the reins of responsibility and ask for it.

Want feedback – ask for it

This is going to involve the following:

  • Discussing & defining feedback with your boss – building alignment
  • Setting expectations about how often, and how, its given
  • Preparing yourself to accept more input than you have been used to
  • Recognizing feedback without corrective action is a downward spiral
  • Fundamentally agreeing feedback is a professional duty, not a personal critique

The most important relationship you'll have at work is with your boss: given that it behooves you to address the status of your feedback loop. Helping them feel welcomed to share that feedback with you turns them into an ally and identifies you as someone committed to improving personal performace.

That's the type of employee we all like to have on our teams.

So eat up before your breakfast gets cold.

 

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