Have you ever had some negative feedback that you just can’t seem to shake off? Or perhaps you’ve felt let down by a work colleague or manager? Ever felt frustrated by the machinations of internal politics? Or felt that your time at that team meeting was frankly completely wasted? If so, you are not alone. According to New research from Epson supported by Cebr reveals UK office workers waste 2 hours and 39 minutes in meetings every week which amounts to £26 billion cost to the UK economy! But its not just the financial cost of getting caught up in negativity, but the relational cost in terms of employee engagement. Disaffected, dispirited and despondent employees rarely offer the kind of discretionary effort needed to achieve organisational objectives.
So what is the solution?
Given the agreed ineptitude of many managers to give genuine “developmental” feedback, (often: too late, too general, too little, too critical, too vague, too obscure), the reality of internal politics (by which I mean going outside usual, formally sanctioned channels to accomplish objectives- which can be both positive and negative), and the eternal problem of meetingitus that infects so many organisations, it seems that the very best way to avoid the despondency cycle is to take some form of personal responsibility for the above.
By taking responsibility for our own learning.
Taking responsibility for our learning is a lot like eating muscles. If you try to eat the whole muscle (including shell) you are probably going to end up with indigestion (at the very least) and possibly a few broken teeth! The sensible thing to do is to scoop out the fleshy part of the muscle and discard the shell.
So what do we do with negative feedback? We ask ourselves what is the truth that I need to pay attention to? and we disregard the rest (this by the way doesn’t mean that we don’t confront inappropriately given feedback appropriately, but rather that we don’t just dwell on the whole event in an unhelpful way)
What do we do when we are let down by a colleague or boss? We ask ourselves what we can learn from what happened, we take considered appropriate action, and we discard the rest.
What about internal politics? We learn about the informal processes that operate in all organisations and work with them, whilst challenging discriminatory behaviour and we discard the rest.
As for pointless meetings, we ensure that we facilitate meetings that have a purpose and clear outcomes, we engage in critical reflection on how to be more efficient and we discard the rest!
Perhaps by engaging these leadership muscles, we would feel more nourished by our experiences and suffer less indigestion!