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Feedback in the spirit of collaboration

Published: 2019-08-01 11:19

A classic English Spring

Feedback is a tricky thing. But giving and receiving come with their own challenges. You want to receive feedback because, hopefully, you are both proud of what you have done, but also want to learn to be better. However, someone objectively viewing your output can be an exercise in professionalism, restraint, tact and open mindedness, after all this is personal to you and what how you work and act . I find receiving feedback is really helpful. We have conditioned ourselves in order to learn and grow in our professional lives. This personal drive is very strong in Essity’s work culture. It’s about adopting an attitude of self-reflection and taking on board the essence of the feedback you receive. Good feedback gives you the ability to implement the learnings across all areas of your work.

Naturally some feedback is going to hit harder than others. Working on a project for months and having someone point out things you should have or could have done better is nobody’s ideas of a fun activity. Speaking from my own experiences though, feedback has made the work I have produced so much clearer, better and more suited to my target audience than I would have achieved by working in my own personal silo. A mentor of mine early on in my career with Essity gave me this nugget of wisdom: Often the person giving you feedback is as nervous/ unsure of how to proceed as yourself. By being positive, accepting and respectful you will both get a lot more out of the experience. Easier said than done – but good intent is half the battle.

Giving feedback can be even more challenging than receiving it. You want to be clear and give good feedback and you want the receiver to feel inspired and enthusiastic not deflated and miserable. Praise for work well done as well as support for improvement are all part of the recipe for a successful feedback culture. I have given and received lots of feedback in my career at Essity so far. A big part of collaborating across teams in the way we do is supported by feedback. Done correctly this can be an incredible tool for professional self-improvement and increasing our mental agility in tackling similar issues in the future.

I find giving feedback is harder than taking it. Which seems totally backwards to me, but its true. Always in the back of my mind there is a part of me that doesn’t want to cause upset. Inevitably though, you must think about it from the other persons perspective, putting yourself in the shoes of the other person is a vital skill in giving good quality and useful feedback. Ask yourself – how would I feel if I received that feedback input? Increasingly often we are all asked to give feedback, and if that’s the case then the person is actively trying to improve and asking you to help facilitate this. Dancing around this issue and making the person work for your meaning is doing neither of you favours. This is not assuming all feedback is negative however but regardless of what kind of feedback you are giving: Be direct, not brutal but clear and simple.

On the occasion when you feel you need to give unsolicited feedback (which happens), your best approach in my experience so far, is to be respectful, clear and solution oriented. It is much more effective to approach feedback with a positive and problem-solving manner. Be prepared for push back and just be clear that the feedback is designed to be helpful . It is the individuals choice whether to take any action. Every person is different when it comes to feedback, there isn’t a simple formula to give and receive it, but it is a very crucial part of development. I really like this quote: “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard. It encapsulates what I am trying to say. Be part of the solution not the problem!

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Max Gordon

Digital Communication Specialist

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