Avoid Feedback from These 3 People

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Question—have you ever tossed your annual review in the trash, without reading it, within seconds of it landing in your hands?

I have…twice actually. I can explain…but a little later.

As a society, we have become so fixated on the idea of receiving feedback, or the practice of someone offering their opinion about another person, based on performance. And feedback channels seem to be popping up everywhere that they are beginning to go unnoticed. From electronic bracelets that track our footsteps to smartphones that monitor the rhythm of our heart, feedback is the new norm.

Work too?
And we’re not safe at work either. As a matter of fact, we are even more prone to receiving feedback in our careers than ever before. Just ask someone in their 50’s if they ever had this many performance reviews, check-ins, touch-bases, VOC surveys, 360 reviews, follow-ups, MBRs, QBRs, postmortems and whatever other buzzword created to mean one thing and one thing only—feedback.

Yet there’s something missing from the feedback equation. That is—feedback avoidance.

Even when I googled “avoid feedback,” the entire first page of results referenced avoiding noise feedback in audio equipment. Clearly, avoiding another person’s feedback is not a very popular concept.

I have come to find that most people are not qualified to express their opinion of you. I will admit that it sounds a bit arrogant for me to make that claim. However, the honest truth is that—feedback from unqualified sources will likely cause you to examine yourself for flaws that aren’t there or may not be significant enough to warrant a change (all humans have something).

Avoid feedback from these 3 people:

1. The Outsider – Where possible, make it a priority to understand as much about a person’s life experiences before accepting feedback from them. Otherwise, you can end up being a victim of someone’s limited perspective simply because they cannot relate with your views.For instance, I once received feedback from a trusted colleague who, for good reason in his mind, discouraged me to pursue entrepreneurship endeavors. Now on the surface it sounds like honest advice from a friend who is only trying to help. Until you find out that he experienced tremendous financial strain as child due to his father’s failed entrepreneurial pursuits. Now under the context of that childhood experience, it makes perfect sense that he would be antagonistic to the idea of someone he cared about creating start-up. The good news is that I recognized his bias, ignored his feedback and went on to profitably run a marketing agency.

Quick sidebar: Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you should only seek feedback from like-minded individuals. Having someone who understands you while opposing your idea is totally different than someone who just doesn’t get you. The goal is to avoid feedback from someone who clearly would not understand you or your perspective.

2. The Hater – (because we all have them) I beg you to please make sure that the person you get feedback from has virtually nothing to gain or lose by providing you honest and constructive feedback. Otherwise, you may find yourself doubting your abilities because of the negative opinion of someone who does not have your best interest in mind. The hardest part though, is uncovering this before you have already received feedback from this person. More often than not, you will get burned once before you actually find out their true intentions (only fools get burned twice right?).

The “Dragon Lady” story: I once had a boss (more like, animal) that capitalized on every opportunity to criticize me for any error I made, regardless of how small it was. The problem, as I eventually discovered, was not that I was bad at my job but that I was good, too good. It was not until the big boss (her boss) revealed to me that I was doing such a great job that in the very near future I could eventually get promoted to be on the same level as my direct boss. Before that revelation, her negativity almost had me thinking that I was a step away from being fired. However, jealousy and fear provoked my boss to disparage me, at times publicly, in hopes crushing my ambition and stopping my ascent. Nevertheless, my positive thinking prevailed and I employed my most impenetrable defense mechanism yet—feedback avoidance in which, I completely ignored any and all feedback she provided, no exceptions.

Now about those two annual reviews…
Although positive (confirmed by my payout), upon reviewing the bonus payout portion, I immediately crumbled and tossed my review into the trashcan to ensure that I never read the written portion, which was her assessment (or feedback) of my annual performance.

Extreme?…maybe. Necessary?…heck yeah! Frankly, it was the only way to ensure that I did not go back to doubting my wonderful, God-given talents as a result of a bona fide hater.

3. The Grouch – We all know them. This is the one that will find any reason to complain about anything. Free lunch day at work—he will be the one complaining about the quality of the silverware while at the same time, helping himself to ginormous portions of the free lasagna. I will keep this one really simple—stay away from this person…even beyond getting feedback. Why would you waste your time with someone who is always negative about life? Bad company corrupts good character so do yourself a favor and avoid their feedback and if possible, avoid spending extensive time with them. Why (as if you still need to be convinced)? Because every minute you spend (waste) with them, is one less minute that could be well spent with someone else or doing something that enriches your life.

Constructive feedback = a good thing:
Constructive feedback is usually a life-changing event that I admittedly need more of. However, ignoring, and where possible, avoiding feedback from those that are unqualified is a strategy that has helped me reach, and continue to reach, amazing heights in my life. You should try it.

So I will leave you with a charge; if you ever suffered from the feedback of an unqualified source, and you do not mind sharing that experience, please leave a comment below. I am no expert—I just did what I felt necessary to maintain a healthy spiritual, mental and emotional lifestyle. So go ahead, help someone by sharing your experience.

-Steele

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The Inverse Pyramid Is Killing Employee Engagement

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“Look Johnny, the CEO is at the very bottom of the pyramid – serving the average workers at the top. How thoughtful.”

Said no corporate worker in their sane mind.

Almost everyday, corporate workers are subjected to copious heaps of internal communication dogma. And the infamous inverted pyramid is by far the most offensive and ridiculous of them all. The inverted pyramid implies that the few top leaders of the corporation prioritize the needs of the workers above their own. And like unicorns and Sasquatch, that notion is so far from the reality that is obvious to every corporate worker with just half of a brain.

Here’s the deal…
The reality for most corporate organizations is that the workers (who are actually at the bottom of the organizational pyramid) cater to the needs of the very few top leaders. I can attest to the fact that, as a young mid-level manager working at a place that had the traditional pyramid organizational structure, the general rule of thumb was simple – the big bosses got what they wanted when they wanted it, period. I distinctly remember every request that came “from on high” received the white-glove treatment. Workers would immediately stop whatever they were doing, regardless of importance, and take care of the request from the senior leader. Trust me, you do not know the true definition of CYA until you have witnessed your managers scramble to ensure they are not in the cross-hairs of the big bosses. Like rats running to the deck level of a sinking ship…

What I have just described sounds like the exact opposite of the CEO’s cherished, self-deprecatory, inverse pyramid illustration (or shall I say, inverse pyramid illusion).

I wonder–did the top leaders wax romantically about the efficacy of their beloved inverse pyramid?

Did the senior leadership team drink their own Kool-Aid and think that employees would buy into their banal attempts to appear as one of the regular guys?

Be honest…
Let’s face the facts–CEOs are so removed from the average worker that it is laughable to think otherwise. How “removed” you ask? Well as of 2013, CEOs make 273 times more than the average worker. Million dollar salaries, million dollar bonuses, personal security detail, personal drivers, private jet privileges, reserved parking, personal chefs and housing allowances make up just a few of the many perks these senior executives reap.

Seriously Steele, what’s your problem?
My issue with the inverse pyramid and other corporate internal communication falsifications is actually really simple–they make a mockery of the workers’ intelligence.

One last word to the senior executives…
Don’t tell workers that your number one mission is to serve their needs when in reality, workers spend their time busting their behinds to fulfill all of your requests.

And while you’re at it, don’t tell workers that your main priority is to serve them, and then in the same breath tell Wall Street that your main priority, above everything else, is to take care of shareholders. How can you serve two masters?

And don’t tell your workers that titles are not important, yet you and your senior team have reserved parking and private elevators. You think workers don’t see that?

It’s really simple, either practice the things your internal communications convey or simply put an end to hypocritical, absurd communication efforts. Everyone knows that they work in an environment that closely resembles a monarchy and not the democracy that you strive to convey.

Your workers are your number one asset–don’t make a mockery of them.

Your workers live in reality.

Just in case you forgot, they’re not sheep that simply go along with every shenanigan placed in front of them.

Practice what you preach… or just stop living in your fantasy world and flip the inverted organizational pyramid back on its natural side.

-Steele

A Champion’s Cause:

“No one sat me down and taught me this stuff. I had to learn it all on my own by bumping my head and watching others do the same…so I freely give away all that I know to help others just like me.”

- Steele A. Champion

I really hope that this post helped you in some way or another. And if it has, do me a favor and share this with someone or better yet, go ahead and provide your name and email address below to subscribe to TalkLikeTheBoss.com. We’ll send you more posts just like this directly to your inbox.

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Stop Calling Minorities – “Inner-city” and “Urban”

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Who woke up one morning and decided that it was a good idea to refer to minorities and low-income people as “inner-city” and “urban”?

Not cool.

I suppose I was in third grade when I learned that the word “inner-city” literally referred to the center of a city, and “urban” as an area within or in close proximity to a city.

Nowhere in my adolescent education (and the dictionary for that matter) did I observe the terms “urban” and “inner-city” used in a way to refer to African-American, Hispanic and other minority communities as those terms are often used today.

Sure I get it, well-intentioned people want to avoid using words that can be perceived as offensive to certain cultural and socioeconomic groups because, as many have witnessed recently in the media, news of people caught saying inappropriate words travels at eye-blink speeds (just ask Paula Deen).
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Transformational Change – Featured Buzzword

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Transformational Change

Obviously because change that doesn’t transform is no longer good enough these days. Don’t get us started on this phrase…we will just keep it really simple and say that it means to make a significant change that would put the organization on a different path or trajectory. In the age where most big companies are clawing to “reinvent themselves,” this phrase has become prevalent in most large companies.

“We are striving for TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE this year and we cannot achieve it without the help of our greatest assets, which of course is all of you guys.”

Drive (Driver) – Featured Buzzword

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Drive (Driver)

To lead or serve as the leader of an initiative.

“We need Jesse to DRIVE this exercise by staying on top of the business owners and ensuring that they are executing against the recommendations.”

When Opportunity Knocks, You Better Run! – Buzzword Alert

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Every now and then I hear a buzzword used in a way that angers me to the point of almost punching a hole in a wall. The buzzword “opportunity” is one of them. Let me explain…

Opportunity used to mean something good. As a child I was taught to seek opportunities and be thankful anytime I ever received one. Dictionary.com defines opportunity as: a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success.

Well, leave it up to big corporate to change this once promising term to the complete opposite of its original meaning. When I hear the word “opportunity” said in the office, my skin crawls. Why, you ask? These politically correct, best-practice mongers had the gall to alter the word to mean weakness, or to reference an area that needs improvement.

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Disconnect – Featured Buzzword

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Disconnect

A buzzword referenced when there is not a mutual understanding among at least two parties.

“They sent over the wrong files again…I believe there is a DISCONNECT in our communication of the project requirements.”

Is Your Company Stealing Your Salary?

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Is your company robbing you of the salary you deserve? Possibly.

The one thing I painfully figured out early in my young career is — the method in which companies are able to cheat many of their employees out of the salary they rightfully deserve.

Are you wondering if you’re one of the many victims? Keep on reading because you probably are.

Aside from the most popular method of salary thievery, which is, the initial salary the worker receives upon being hired, the next method of thievery is executed through a series of internal promotions.

So how do they rob me of the salary I deserve?

Companies use the internal promotion, or the practice of hiring an internal candidate for an open role, to secretly whittle away at their employees’ salaries. I painfully uncovered this discreet practice from a personal experience with one of my first employers. And to ensure that I wasn’t being picked-on, I validated my suspicion of this practice by conducting interviews of over 50 professional colleagues from varying years of experience, organizational rank, industries and corporations (and about 50% of them were HR executives).

It works like this; with each internal promotion a worker receives, the company will strategically pay the worker below the market rate, which allows them to save money (an external candidate will more than likely get the market rate). Add up a few of those salary haircuts with each promotion and before you know it, your poor salary could be significantly lower than the going rate for that role (well in the double digits from a percentage stand-point).

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Pivot – Featured Buzzword

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Pivot

To change from the original direction or idea.

“OK, it’s time to PIVOT now that we’ve explored all of the possibilities around the direct mail marketing campaign.”

Two Bosses You Better Avoid

From the “Corporate Survival Kit” series.

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The corporate world is filled with things that can cause significant harm to your career and while it is impossible to avoid all of them, you can certainly do your very best to avoid the severe, career-ending threats.

That brings me to two horrible bosses that I often refer to as wild animals. While boss personalities vary significantly, I’ll reveal two of the most dangerous bosses (animals) of the corporate wilderness:

The BullyBoss - The only good news is that this creature can easily be identified because of their tendency to belittle, intimidate and virtually feast on the emotions of workers who are lower on the food chain (organizational chart ranking) than themselves. I describe this type of boss in great detail in a previous post, but it’s best to avoid this creature. However, if you’re forced to work with them, resist the urge to challenge them because you will inevitably become their bait. It will be difficult to avoid the urge to stand-up to the BullyBoss but trust me when I tell you that it’s not worth your job. Avoidance in the form of direct contact or confrontation is your best strategy. It seems that everywhere I look, TV shows, websites, celebrities and the general public are fighting back against school bullies. However, the corporate bully lives on unchallenged by the forces of good and that is a shame. I look forward to the day when these ancient animals of the corporate world get punished for their moral crimes against worker humanity. Until then, don’t try to be a hero…focus on survival.

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