Yesterday I was struck yet again with the fact that many of the best lessons we learn in life come from ordinary things. I had such an experience yesterday while I was getting a haircut. As I made my way to the chair the stylist asked a question that causes stress to rise in just about any guys mind, “How do you want your haircut?” The answer to this question is the same as every other time; I desire my hair just how it is, just shorter. Then the stylist asked how much hair I wanted her to cut…. a half inch… and inch? So, in the best way possible I gave her some pointers and she told me she would cut it and then I could take a look at it and let her know what I thought.
When a few moments were completed she turned my chair around for the final REVEAL. I looked straight into the mirror in front of me and checked out the front of my hair. After a quick perusal I looked in the mirror as it reflected an image of the back of my head from another mirror. The stylist then asked me a question that stirred my thoughts, she said, “Is this what you were thinking?” In that moment the stylist was looking for me to evaluate the work she had done and give her feedback as to whether everything was exactly how I desired it to be before I left. To be honest, she really didn’t even need to ask me for feedback because if it didn’t look right I would have immediately said something and had her fix it. I have to live with my haircut- it affects everything about me, so feedback is not just crucial it is necessary.
This leads me to a simple thought, you wouldn’t even think about getting a haircut, or dressing in the morning without taking a glance in the mirror to get some perspective as well as some feedback as to how you look. Feedback is crucially important to our confidence. If feedback is that important, why do so many organizations never create a feedback loop into their culture? Many organizations operate by a leader casting a vision of some compelling future and then handing the task of creating that future in the hands of everyone else. The problem with this is that it leads both parties frustrated. The leader is frustrated because what is created never ends up looking like what they had in mind and the team players are frustrated because they create something based upon their interpretation of what the leader said, not necessarily what the leader visualized.
I am challenged to become better at creating a feedback loop in the culture of the organization I lead. Providing feedback is not only important to the overall stress level of the organization, but it will also be a game changer to build confidence in the culture moving forward. As a leader are you providing feedback, or are your expectations of others performance based upon a dream in your head and not an idea which has been properly communicated with sufficient feedback along the way?