We have a lot of fucked-up confusion about feedback at work, ranging from “How relevant is it?” to “How often should it occur?” to “Isn’t the point of this place to achieve tasks and revenue?” Feedback is really fraught at most places. At some (many?) places, it barely happens at all.
One of the main issues is…
We are expected to take feedback from multiple people and levels, even if these people barely know our names. Basically, if you make more money than me, I need to be able to take feedback from you, even if you call me “Tom” while giving it. (My name is Ted.) That exact story once happened to me.
Then there’s the whole deal with “absentee managers,” meaning a boss of yours who could seemingly care less whether you live or die, but the moment you step out of process, you need to listen to everything they are telling you feedback-wise, which is usually just a bloated, verbal diarrhea version of “Get back in process so I look good.”
But we can’t possibly take that much feedback
It’s not conceivable because, frankly, we don’t care about that many people’s opinions. To do so would drive us crazy, or at the very least crater our self-esteem — which admittedly work does a good job of cratering anyway.
So instead, maybe we do this
This is from an article by Pete Carroll’s business partner:
Moving forward, solicit feedback from a short list of people who matter to you. Honest reflection is a vital component of mastery. During an episode of my podcast, “Finding Mastery,” Brené Brown, a renowned researcher and author of Dare to Lead, suggested that the names of those people should fit on a 1×1 inch index card. I add a second condition. The people on your card should have a great sense of the person you are and the person you’re working to become. Hold their views in high regard, letting the noise from the crowd fade away. Calibrate their feedback with your experience.
Yep. This is kinda tied to the idea of “Dunbar’s Number,” meaning there are only a small amount of people who can possibly keep in your core orbit at any given time. If you care about their opinions and you yourself have some degree of self-awareness about what needs to get better in your life, rely on this core. 1×1 inch index card is a good start. Let the noise fade away. We already have too much of that as is.