Sara: Welcome to, Can I Offer You Some Feedback? My name is Sara, and this is the podcast for those who have a complicated relationship with feedback and are looking to hear from real people across levels and industries with their ideas, perspectives, and best practices on feedback. Before we dive in, I'd like to introduce our guest for the podcast today, Julie. She's a higher education consultant and entrepreneurial dog mom. Welcome to the conversation today.
Julie: Thank you. I'm excited to be here.
Sara: So let's kick things off with the main question of the podcast. When I say the phrase, "can I offer you some feedback?" What's your gut reaction when you hear that?
Julie: Absolutely, yes, please. I crave feedback. And I will accept it and welcome it any day. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that I see feedback as a means to grow both as a human as well as a professional. I don't see myself as perfect and if any feedback can help me to become better at either what I'm doing professionally or who I am as a person, I am happy to have that. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I came from an industry where constructive feedback wasn't something that was given. And so I was just kind of flying by the seat of my pants and never really knew how I was doing and where I could grow. And so, I now have learned to ask for feedback when I feel like I'm at a standstill or a plateau and really seek those opportunities for growth.
Sara: I love your enthusiasm, Julie, and the desire to really seek that feedback out. I'm curious, do you prefer to give the feedback or receive the feedback?
Julie: Ironically, I actually prefer to give the feedback. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I crave it so much that I want to make sure that other people have the opportunity to actually receive feedback and grow as a result of the feedback that I have. So, as a supervisor and as a mentor, I always looked for concrete ways to help those reporting to me grow, and opportunities for them to really refine the skills that they had as both professionals, but also if there are opportunities within their life that they can do that. So I really enjoy being able to give feedback to others and make it a constructive learning experience for everybody.
Sara: When you're thinking about the experience, how you might go about designing that, how do you think about or how would you define meaningful feedback?
Julie: So I see meaningful feedback as being tangible, achievable examples that they can use for opportunities for growth. So rather than being really general, actually giving specific actions or moments or opportunities where somebody could potentially improve. If you see those, let somebody know them. Because having those concrete examples versus just really kind of general feedback allows for somebody to really put them into action and make any necessary changes happen. I also see meaningful feedback as being timely in nature rather than letting something fester and continue to be a problem, provide them with that feedback on the spot if you're able to, or within a timely manner so that it's fresh on the mind and the feedback can actually be put into practice.
Sara: Yeah. That immediacy is so important in being able to provide that feedback. But I also love that you're talking about the examples. When is a time when you actually did this thing? So that it is grounded in that reality and sets the stage for that person. I'm curious, can you share an example of a time where you've either seen it, so you've observed meaningful feedback being delivered, or perhaps you've been the recipient of it?
Julie: Yeah, absolutely. So I once had a direct report who really struggled with their job. It was the first job that they had had directly out of college. And while everything seemed to be going really well initially, about a year and things really just started to crumble and a lot of issues started to rise to the surface. HR got involved and frankly, this person's job was at risk. At one point we were having a really serious conversation, a conversation that nobody really as an employee wants to have between me and my direct report as well as my boss. It was a really tough conversation for everybody involved. Not the one that somebody as a boss wants to give, but also something that no one wants to sit through as an employee.
I remember my boss sitting there with my direct report and being very, very direct with them, very clear with them in what this person needed to do to improve at their job to the point where they would be able to keep their job. It was really direct. And I remember very clear examples, but there was an incredible undertone of kindness and support that came along with it. Kind of the thought, I know you're struggling, but I also know that you can do this. The clear examples this person could put into practice within their job. And there was a very clear timeline for improvement that was given. And I try to replicate all of that, this idea of really clear examples, but also this undertone of kindness and being really meaningful in the conversation that was having, just watching it. It was absolutely magical to watch this conversation happen. And it's something that I try to replicate all the time in the feedback that I give.
Sara: I love that you're sharing in that example. I know you touched on the examples prior and having that be an important part along with the specificity and the clarity. But what this manager also was able to provide was recommendations, right? Not only here's a time when you did it and what we are looking to see different, like actually showing and explaining what might that look like so that it's not a guessing game. Right?
Sara: You said do better in this, so like, I'm going to come up with a way, right?
Sara: Or maybe specific in a potential recommendation for that. I love that connection that that person was able to do and also appreciating that support that they provided, that it felt really caring. And I think sometimes people miss that. When they're thinking about critical feedback, they think it has to be... Direct doesn't mean harsh, right? It can be done in a supportive way and it can be done in a kind way. So, absolutely.
Julie: And having direct feedback also leaves little room for interpretation. Nothing can get lost in translation if you're giving really direct feedback. And I think that that's where feedback can get confusing for the person that's giving it, but also for the person that's receiving it. If you're not direct and giving those clear examples, there are all sorts of room for interpretation in terms of what somebody is saying, but also what somebody is receiving from that conversation. So that direct nature and those really clear examples, I think are so important. But again, that undertone of kindness and support, I think is hugely valuable to the person receiving feedback as well.
Sara: Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm curious to know, if you had the power of affecting change in this way, what would you hope, maybe one thing that people could do differently around feedback, what might it be?
Julie: I think that people receiving feedback recognize that it's not a bad thing. It's not done with bad intention that somebody is giving you feedback. In fact, it's actually quite the contrary. Somebody giving you feedback means that they're invested in you. It means that they want to see you grow and they want to see you develop. And so that value that they're placing in providing you with feedback is something that I would take as being a really good thing, in fact. So, it doesn't always mean that you've done something wrong, it just means that there's room for you to grow and improve in that capacity. So bring on the feedback. I'm absolutely here for it.
Sara: Absolutely. Well, let me jump to our last question. In our time together, Julie, can I offer you some feedback?
Julie: Absolutely. I'm here for it.
Sara: I know you're here for it. There's something I've always appreciated about how when we've talked together, you have such a grounding in reality. And I know that might sound strange, but when you provide examples, when you think about recommendations, when you are talking about a situation, it feels so supported not only by your standards, your beliefs, your ethics, but it feels a different kind of real than when I talk to other people. And I really love that when you're able to communicate with people and when you do share, whether it's feedback or connecting with someone or inquiring about how someone's doing, it's done from such a space of presence. And I think that that's such a power for you. I don't know if you're aware that you have that or if you do that, but I love that it's kind of an unapologetic presence but supportive and being there for that other person. And I really appreciate that I know. I've benefited from that and I'm sure those with whom you work also see that as well or have the chance to see it a bit more. So I wanted to say thank you for providing that.
Julie: No, thank you. And conversations like these just make it easier to have those conversations as well.
Sara: Absolutely. Well, Julie, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me, and thanks to you for joining us in another episode of Can I Offer You Some Feedback? You can reach me at [email protected] We would love to hear from you on your thoughts on feedback, or any other perspectives you'd like to hear from next. As always, give us a quick rating on your platform of choice and share this podcast with a friend. And I'm hoping that tomorrow you take a chance and offer feedback when it's needed most.