If You Want a Culture of Feedback, You Should Measure the Sensitivity of Those You Hire

Kris Dunn FOT Reads, Good HR, HR, Kris Dunn, Learning, Learning and Development

Feedback has never been on the menu for most of us, people. Here’s a taste of what I’m talking about from the aptly-named Tim Sackett Project:

Here are the types of “critical” feedback people can handle:

“You’re doing a good job, would love it if you could get that big project off the ground. That would really help us out!”

Here’s what you really want to say, critically, but can’t:

“You do good at things I tell you to do, and all basic day-to-day duties of the job. I need more from this position and from you, and I’m willing to help get you there. I need someone who can take a project from scratch and kill it, without me having to babysit the entire thing. You’re not doing that, and that’s what I really need you to do. Are you willing do that?” 

The reality in addition to what Tim outlines above?  If you really wanted a culture of feedback, you’d do a combination of three things:

1.  You’d measure the sensitivity of those you’re thinking about hiring through some type of behavioral assessment, because high sensitivity people are divas when it comes to receiving feedback (it’s not their fault, it’s who they are) and high sensitivity people are also more empathetic to others, as well.  That second piece is a positive in many, many ways, but when it comes to giving feedback it means they might delay giving someone feedback if they think there’s a chance it’s going to hurt the other person.

2. You’d shoot to avoid hiring people who are highest sensitivity, and/or

3. If you hired them, you’d start the onboarding process by telling them you’re trying to build a culture of feedback, and the first time you give them the real deal (Tim’s second example in italics above) you’re going to break out their assessment and prepare them to not cry on you, or pretend like they’re getting ready to jump from the ledge.

Sensitivity. A positive in many ways when it comes to empathy and a sense of urgency, a blocking characteristic when it comes to trying to get to a culture of direct and honest feedback.

Your job as a manager would be great if it weren’t for the people. That’s a joke.

OK, it’s not.

If you’re looking for a team that can take feedback, you better start measuring sensitivity via an assessment as part of your hiring process.

FOT Note: This rant is brought to you by the good folks at Meridian, who like us enough to be an annual sponsor at FOT for all content in our learning and development track (and don’t expect that we run any of this by them ahead of time). They’re also up for having fun to the extent that they’re sponsoring the Learning and Development Hangout Series. Check it out!

Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn is a Partner and CHRO at Kinetix, a national RPO firm for growth companies headquartered in Atlanta. He’s also the founder Fistful of Talent (founded in 2008) and The HR Capitalist (2007) – and has written over 70 feature columns at Workforce Management magazine. Prior to his investment at Kinetix, Kris served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter and Cingular. In his spare time, KD hits the road as a speaker and gives the world what it needs – pop culture references linked to Human Capital street smarts.