Redox value – Practice feedback

April 16, 2018
Luke Bonney Co-Founder & CEO

Give frequent, honest feedback and expect to receive it from others.

I want to start a conversation to figure out what we can do to elevate our practice of feedback. And I’d like to start this conversation not by asking what others can do, but for each of us to ask, “What can I do to more effectively live this value?”

Why is “practice feedback” one of our values?

Point-to-point, person-to-person feedback sits at the very foundation of our values as a company. Without the expectation of giving and receiving feedback, we cannot build trust. Without trust, communication breaks down. When communication between people breaks down we replace it with rules, unneeded process, hierarchy and an environment that stifles greatness.

‘Practice Feedback’ is a value because when we live it, we build strong relationships that give rise to resilient, adaptable teams that can tackle incredible problems. But it’s hard. It’s something we don’t do naturally, and certainly something that takes repeated practice over time. Giving and receiving feedback from the people we work with should happen frequently (multiple times a week) and feel normal. If it’s not happening frequently and doesn’t feel normal, we should ask why.

Feedback and individual growth

I crave feedback from others. It’s a key ingredient for my personal growth. It helps validate my internal compass on the areas I need to work on and the areas where I’m doing well.

I realized recently that I wasn’t getting as much feedback as I needed and started to wonder why. I realized I wasn’t creating an environment conducive for others to provide me feedback. If someone gave me critical feedback they’d have to listen to my defensive retorts. I discovered that giving me critical feedback was hard work!

How do you invite feedback from others? How can you make it easier?

Feedback and great teams

When I read about great teams, I read about groups of people in pursuit of something bigger than themselves. They come together and accomplish things that as individuals wouldn’t be possible. How do they do it?

The thing I notice every time I read or learn about these teams is that they orient themselves around the problem or opportunity. It’s like they’re all sitting on one side of the table looking at the same whiteboard. The way they work together is not about me and you, or us and them, it’s about whatever they can do to solve that problem.

Sharing feedback is part of our team’s pursuit. When you don’t share feedback, you’re holding back the team. Sharing feedback is part of the problem solving method and approach. It’s not personal, it’s expected.

Does your team share feedback regularly? What can you do to share feedback more frequently as a team?

Being vulnerable and allowing others to be vulnerable

We used to have a practice called ‘Blue Angels’. Blue Angels is a famous precision flying group, the best of the best from the USAF. After each and every show, the entire group sits down and does a full review of their flight, step by step, turn by turn. Each person takes a turn, and talks through in extreme detail where they messed up. Everyone goes, from the newest member of the team to the ranking officer. When they finish each person exclaims ‘I’ll fix my mistakes and I’m happy to be here’. 

Why do they do this? They do this to ensure everyone gets comfortable being vulnerable. The Blue Angels team is in pursuit of perfection, flying at high speeds with high precision. They can’t afford to not identify and take action on each mistake and opportunity to improve. The pursuit of perfection is above any one person, it’s about the team and the team’s goal.

We used to do the same thing once a week. We’d each go around and talk through our mistakes and what we were going to do to make sure we didn’t make the same mistake twice.

Blue Angels was a high point for me each week. I looked forward to it. It was refreshing to be so open about where I needed to improve. That moment of reflection, especially as a group, was a weekly reminder that we all have many things to work on.

What can we do to practice being vulnerable with each other?

When giving feedback is hard

There are many times it’s easier to not give someone critical feedback. It’s easy to talk about it with someone else, or to let it slide. Each time we do that we should ask ourselves why? Am I holding back information that would help that person grow? Am I holding back because I’m scared? Am I holding back because I think somebody else will take care of it?

In all these situations, don’t hold back. Figure out what is holding you back, and do something about it. Figure out how to deliver it. Expect this of yourself and expect it of everyone around you.

Practice feedback. It’s how we grow individually, it helps those around us grow and is at the foundation of each team at Redox. In order to do it well we must be vulnerable with ourselves and with each other. It’s not easy, but that’s why we practice it each day.

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