Tick placed in poor checkbox

A new supervisor and I discussed his staff’s response to his new management role.

“They are very satisfied”, he said.  “Everything is going great.”

I asked, “How do you know?”

He answered, “I know because there has been no negative feedback, only positive.”

“You are in real trouble”, I told him.  “You must create an environment that permits, invites, and values negative feedback.”

No matter how good you are as a supervisor, there is never a time when everything is good and positive.  There are always problems, dysfunctional processes and burdensome rules.  Even if you have only one person reporting to you, that person actually doing the work knows ways to improve productivity and morale that you have not and probably never will think about.

Positive feedback may make a supervisor feel good, but it is worthless.  It just encourages you to continue what you are doing, maintain the status quo.  There is nothing to encourage or motivate improvement.

If you really do want to improve the productivity and morale of your staff, create an environment where everyone knows you are open to negative feedback and suggestions for improvement.  They will only know this if you tell them in no uncertain terms.  You must understand that you will have to say this over and over again.  They will only believe it when they see you actually practice what you preach.  Only when you recognize those who speak out and tell you the truth, only when they see that nothing negative happens to those who tell you what you don’t want to hear, and only when they see you set a new direction based on their negative feedback will they believe you.

The Only Real Feedback Is Negative Feedback.

Only negative feedback provides opportunities and direction for improvement.  From it you have usable material to set new paths and invent new and better processes.

Play it smart, seek negative feedback!

—Jimmy Collins