Remember, yelling “En Garde” as a kid? It warned our friends to “take a defensive position” and let the imaginary fencing match begin. This French phrase came to mind as I walked passed an odd building the other day. It was the fence that drew my attention. Actually, it was the huge spotlights designed to illuminate the fence in opposite directions that drew my attention.
Upon further inspection, I realized this 4-story building had no windows– or signs! Seems a bit defensive, don’t you think? It looked like it was trying remain protected, yet it must have something very important going on inside! It’s a perfect parallel to the “shy innovator!” Maybe you know someone who has a great idea, but gets a little defensive when you offer feedback? Maybe you ARE that person thinking, “I didn’t ask for your suggestions!” Or, “I DID ask for your suggestions, but only the ones that won’t cause me hours of rework.”
When we are working on something new, it is important to:
- Remain calm: Usually, the feedback you receive is not a commentary on you as an individual, but on the idea. Avoid racing ahead to calculate the hours of rework. The exercise of getting feedback is like brainstorming; nothing is decided, only proposed. If you keep an open mind, you just might get a pearl of wisdom.
- Inquire and test: It is very difficult to make small adjustments when the whole solution is complete, especially when YOU love it just the way it is. Creating a product or service in a vacuum, grants one person or team too much authority which results in many unproven assumptions. Break things down and request comments on small components.
- Seek out bad news: Getting bad news after proposing your idea is not insurmountable, it is an opportunity. It is especially helpful, if you can initially structure the conversation as a feedback session rather than a sales call. The “no” or objection then becomes an invitation to better understand the needs of your potential clients.
Your behavior during the feedback process dictates the level of participation you will get in the future. If you act poorly or defensive, don’t be surprised the next time you hear, “It looks great! Good luck!!” No one wants to feel bad about doing you a favor. Take in all opinions and then decide what fits going forward. Don’t be like that strange building without windows. If you have something important going on, avoid thinking “En Garde.” Let people see into your vision, early and often.
Join a Synergy Group where we will discuss what the Bible says about heeding correction, gaining understanding, and humility before honor.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman, an Executive Business Consultant with Leading Synergies, helps high-performing executives refine strategy, inspire teams, and delight clients (specializing in information technology, project management, consulting, and franchise management). She also leads Synergy Groups, weekly 55-minute case study conference calls for REALLY BUSY Christians in leadership. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 20 years.|