What is it about feedback that makes it seem to move in just the one direction: downwards? Every now and then, yes, it does move sideways. But it very, very rarely moves upwards.
No, feedback is almost always something that passes from a senior team member to a more junior one.
It’s as if the giving of feedback is a special right bestowed upon senior team members, a perk that more junior staff have not earned the right to enjoy.
But feedback is not a perk to be earned. Feedback is business bread and butter. Like hard work, putting the hours in and keeping your projects on schedule, feedback is simply something that makes a company tick.
Mary Shapiro has pointed out that “leaders can’t hold everyone accountable because they can’t possibly observe everything.” When you put it like that, it seems so obvious. But we need to get used to passing that bread and butter around a little more, so that peers at the same level share it with each other, and junior staff members feel empowered to pass it upwards to their superiors. Business suffers otherwise.
As a leader who wants this bread and butter to be passed in all directions, the trick is to remind your team again and again and again that feedback is an observation on the work, not on the person who made the work. Keep on reminding your team, then remind them some more, until your staff finally take on board the crucial distinction between feedback and criticism. Get that bread and butter flowing freely!