I wrote this Letter to the Editor of the New York Times, following all their instructions about how to do that. Since they chose not to publish it, I will.
Dear Editor –
Karen May makes a very significant point in her interview (Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012). However, two pivotal points should be added.
First, useful feedback requires more than the sender conquering his/her fear sufficiently to give it. The feedback must be relevant to the individual and the interests of the organization. Not all feedback is valuable or even credible. Second, feedback must be behavioral. Too often it is interpretive which can, quite rightly, lead to a defensive response.
In my years of consulting, having worked with over 1000 directors, executives and managers, I find that poorly given feedback can not only fail to inspire change but it may damage relationships and impair future capability. Leaders and mangers need to give good feedback, something that can be learned. They need to do more than gird their loins.