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Welcoming A Challenge (#15 - 5/18/23)
How often do you ask for feedback? When you’re given feedback how often do you change what you’re doing based on that feedback?
I love asking my teams and direct reports for feedback. In many cases, I’ll end our one-on-ones with, “any feedback for me?” or “anything I could be doing to better support you?” When the answer too consistently is “nah, all good,” I’ll sometimes assign homework of bringing at least one piece of feedback for our next conversation.
Hearing that things are going well is good, but I believe as managers and leaders there is always more we can be doing to help our teams grow.
The further I’ve advanced in leadership roles, the more complex and difficult the feedback and challenges become. Where earlier in my career requests were more tactical around projects and day-to-day assistance, questions and requests now are around vision, meaning, and what we’re doing for the next three years.
These new questions scare me but are also one of the most fun parts of my job. What could things look like in two years? What will we have accomplished? How will our vision or mission evolve? What do we need to do now to get there?
One of the engineers on my team this week challenged me on why we’re doing what we’re doing. They asked how we connected to the bigger picture and how we could tell we were contributing to the overarching company goals. While I thought I’d been pretty good about explaining it previously, I found I was too myopic. I was too focused on the immediate connection and impact and less so on the broader company vision.
Accepting the challenge, I’ve spent a good amount of time this week thinking further about how we fit in as a team with internal stakeholders. It would have been easy to dismiss the feedback and point to a slide deck that we’ve already reviewed several times, but the hard parts are what make the job fun.
Feedback can be difficult to hear, especially when it is new and/or unfiltered, but when we view it as a challenge instead of a jab, we unlock new avenues we haven’t previously considered.
Tactical advice: In your next one-on-one, sincerely ask “any feedback for me?” or “anything I could be doing to better support you?” From there, think about what it would take to action the feedback at a small scale and at a larger scale where the root cause is solved forever.
Interesting Links This Week:
What I’m Listening To: The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
The engineer in the anecdote above recommended The Infinite Game to me and I’ve really been enjoying listening to it as I go about my morning tasks. Sinek takes readers through finite and infinite mindsets, framing each with examples from Apple (infinite mindset) and Microsoft (finite mindset) and their releases of the Zune, iPod, and iPhone.
This is a tough book, not because the content is dense, but because (just as above) it is challenging me to think more broadly. Not just about work and the business as a whole, but even me personally.
An example is I swore I’d move off of Medium to Substack because it would give me a better way to monetize my content. That was a very finite mindset. Recently I realized I don’t care about that aspect and am more interested in putting my knowledge out there on all the platforms. I want to be a resource for other leaders that are growing and looking for tactical advice on management. Even if only one nugget resonates and helps, that’s enough for me.
I’m only about halfway through the book, but it’s been solid so far. Simon Sinek doesn’t tend to miss, and The Infinite Game is further evidence.
What’s on your mind this week? Let me know below or reach out on LinkedIn!