Words have a power and a meaning beyond what we sometimes imagine, including in English.
- Feed means to nourish
- Back means “in return”
The expression ” feed-back is a present ” literally means “to nourish in return is a present”, the word present having a double meaning:
- Present in the sense of gift
- But also present, in the present time, and not just once a year, as might be implied by the annual review, which would be an annual gift of feedback on the past year..
Giving feedback has not always been perceived by managers as food… let’s look at a few examples:
Sylvie worked 2 extra hours to prepare a presentation. It was a first for her and her stress level was at its highest. Paul had asked her to prepare a presentation to be given in front of the whole team, without any support, even though she has little self-confidence and a high level of perfectionism. She’s afraid to ask for help when she’s in trouble and has a knack for working overtime at every turn.
Paul sees her as a committed professional, and by giving her this new responsibility he wanted to show her that he has confidence in her. Paul is a demanding manager who is not used to delegating critical tasks or assignments. Paul didn’t tell Sylvie that he was giving her this job because he trusted her. That said, Sylvie knows him, and knows that this is the indirect message Paul is sending her through this responsibility. He didn’t check with her whether she had all the information she needed to prepare the presentation. Because, as usual, Sylvie does her best, works hard and always comes through.
So she redoubled her efforts, and went into the presentation with the highest level of stress she’d ever experienced. She rehearsed, took care of the colours and the presentation, worked on her voice, and asked her husband to listen to her presentation the evening before to give her the final tips. In short, she poured her heart into it.
A specialist in feedback in the present, Paul took a course on the importance of feedback, and how to go about it: congratulations, points of progress, confidence – encouragement. It’s a rather facile summary of certain training courses on the subject.
He passes Sylvie in the corridors the next morning and doesn’t want to miss this opportunity to congratulate Sylvie. He knows she needs it. So he slips her a line. Does he seem to be offering you a present?
“Ha Sylvie, thank you for your work. It was a great presentation. Silence…
It’s a shame you forgot the last slide. That said, it’ll be perfect next time!”
What do you think?
To go further with Assess Manager