Whose Fault Is It When You Don’t Receive Critical Feedback?
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Hi, I'm Flip Flippen, New York Times best-selling author, Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and serial social entrepreneur. So, whose fault is it when you're not receiving feedback, especially as a senior exec?
Let me tell you what I want to talk about. If you're not getting feedback, it's probably your fault. Here's the thought on that. In our company, we've had to create a culture where all of us get feedback from the team around us. It's really a pretty cool process. You do that with very specific situations. I want feedback! When executives don't get feedback, it's your fault. It's your fault! I have to tell you that. Now, you may not like hearing that, but it's your fault. You have to create a culture that wants that. So I'm on I-45, and I'm coming from Dallas back to our home office in College Station, Texas. We're zipping down the highway. I had given a speech, and I asked this young staff member that was with me, "Give me a couple points that could have been better."
"Oh Mr. Flippen, it was amazing! It was amazing! You know, two standing ovations! Everybody just loved it; you're just awesome!"
And I was like, "Thank you, thank you, thank you. I so appreciate that" I said, "but you know, how could I have been better?" Now, I'm not wanting him to be stupid and pick up things that don't mean anything. I'm wanting something meaningful, and hopefully it's there.
Literally, he looked at me and said, "There's just nothing; it was just amazing!" So I pulled over on the side of I-45 - and that's a big highway, by the way!
And I said, "Son, why don't you go ahead and hop out and just run across the street. I'm going to call and get a limo to come pick you up. They'll get you back to the office later today. I've got some things I need to work on." Of course, his eyes were huge!
He's like, "What happened!?! Did I do something?"
And I said, "No, not at all! I was just looking for some feedback, here. But I'm going to have a limo come get you. It'll be okay."
"Mr. Flippen, what did I do?"
I said, "Let me lay something out to you. I'm not going to spend three hours riding down the highway with somebody that can't make me better. So I need some feedback!"
Well, of course he looked at me, he grinned real big, and he said, "Sir, I have some thoughts."
Well, that's what works! Create a culture where you want feedback. Here are some things you've got to do. These are the things you have to do to change that. First thing, you've got to build a culture of trust. If they give you feedback, you can't look at them and say, "Hey, how about you just shut up? That's not important to me! I don't want to hear that!" You can't say those kinds of things. You've got to look at it, no matter what it is. And as they say it, you've got to say, "Thank you! I really appreciate that. I'm going to reflect on that, and see what I can do with it." The second thing is, you've got to solicit it. First, a culture of trust. Second, you've got to solicit it. You've got to ask for it.
The third thing - this is kind of a hard thing - you've got to look at your team, and you've got to say, "You know what? It's okay." Because you're going to have some people in your company that may be meeker, quieter, or a more gentle soul. I certainly don't want to change that, but I want to grow them, so they know that it's incumbent upon them to make all of us better. So, you want to encourage them and say, "No, come on. Give me something, give me something." There's one other thing about this, too. Don't make this an absolute where you have to give me something, or you're going to start getting stuff that's meaningless to you. You're going to get frivolous information or stuff that's not even pertinent to what you're talking about. So help them to be focused with it, and hopefully at peace where they can give that to you in a comfortable way. Grow your team. Grow your organization. That's your job. That is your job! You want to be better? The only way you're going to get better is with great coaching. Feedback is the breakfast of champions, and it's your job to see to it that you and other people in the company get it. So, do well! Go for it! It won't hurt, believe me.