Feedback Earns Respect
Plus three feedback templates for the conflict-averse
Twice in the last month, a coworker did something that irked me.
More specifically, I didn’t appreciate them communicating on behalf of me or my team to a wider audience.
Maybe it’s being Canadian or people-pleaser tendencies, but I’m pretty conflict averse.
When something small irks me, I usually simmer in isolation before sweeping it under the rug.
But Paxos, my new startup, has a cultural norm of real-time candor. This means that to show real respect to our colleagues, we share candid, real-time feedback. This helps them and the overall team improve.
This norm is really well-realized in our day-to-day operations. In one-on-one conversations or Slack messages, people will often tell me things that I can improve or suggestions for how to I can better lead my team.
At first, I was defensive hearing these suggestions and took them as criticism.
But after the initial sting, implementing the feedback really did help me improve. I found myself being more effective in meetings, documenting next steps better and creating more precise goals.
So in these two situations where I was irked, I decided I wouldn’t just simmer. Instead, I exercised the value of real-time candor and sent both of the individuals a message like the following:
“Quick feedback - in the future can we make sure you and I are aligned before sharing docs like X? This makes sure we have the details sorted out before moving to next steps.”
To my pleasant surprise, both times the feedback was received extremely well. They were both apologetic about my concern and receptive to incorporating the feedback.
Better yet I found that our working relationships improved dramatically. We were now both more candid with each other and we spoke more frequently.
As a newcomer to the team, it also felt like I had earned the respect of these coworkers because I had done the “hard thing” of giving feedback rather than the cop-out of bottling it up.
Next time you find yourself irked, try giving real-time feedback. It can diffuse tension, help your team improve and build stronger relationships with coworkers.
Need some help doing this? Here are three templates for fast feedback:
A direct ask:
Hey Sam. Can you share an agenda ahead of our team syncs? I feel like we can use the team’s time more effectively if we have prepared topics ahead of our conversation.
A suggestion for improvement:
Hey Priya. Good job on the Q2 OKR presentation. Next time, I’d suggest skipping the background context and jumping straight to our OKRs. This will give us more time for discussion with leads.
Hey Alex. I think your comment about John’s performance in the general Slack channel was inappropriate. It may have hurt their feelings and is not the culture we want to create. I’d suggest reaching out to John to apologize.
Give it a go and let me know how it lands!
Small personal update:
For 40+ weeks in 2021, I sent out a weekly essay on product management. But life got a little crazy in the fall: I left Facebook, joined Paxos and have been trying to enjoy my life in London.
But I’m going to start publishing regularly again! I’ll aim for bi-weekly to start. Thanks, everyone for your patience and kind words during a busy period in my life.
Oh, and I also have a cool project to share with you all soon based on this newsletter’s mission: Expand Access to Opportunity. Stay tuned (or reach out if you’re really curious).
Hope life is treating you well,
Nice to hear from you and thanks 🙏🏻 for sharing very actionable tips!
So lovely to start hearing from you again! I missed your newsletters. Welcome back and hope you are doing great.