Inviting Feedback, Creating Space for Diversity, and Challenging Tradition
In this week’s article, I’ll briefly touch on some concepts around giving and receiving feedback. Communication is such a large part of how we manage people in production and can deeply impact results. Feedback is one of the most important pieces of how we can communicate with our teams and collaborators. Below is more of an investigation of how I approach these concepts than an explanation.
As a leader, I strive to create environments that are open to feedback, allow for diverse perspectives, and challenge the status quo. Asking questions and being curious about the answers to those questions is how I try to open up hard conversations. I’m writing this post to start a dialogue with you.
Here’s my question: what sorts of tools do you use to invite feedback, and especially how do you respond to feedback when it’s what you don’t want to hear?
Opening a Conversation for Feedback:
- Asking for feedback is a hard thing to do. I’m a human and I love to be right, ask anyone who knows me. I believe that letting our guard down long enough to truly hear and receive the feedback others have about how we communicate holds so much value to our growth as leaders—a lesson I am constantly working to hone and be humble towards.
- Because I do not actually know everything, I’ve learned that it’s OK to acknowledge that I don’t know something. That seemingly small step creates a much more inviting atmosphere for the other person to teach me. One thing my dad used to tell me when I was growing up was, “Bryan, always be coachable… people want to work with people who are willing to learn.” It’s something I hear in my thoughts when I find myself in hard situations where all I want to do is quit or walk away. There are a lot of social expectations here that I’ve worked to unlearn so that I can ask for help more often.
Allowing for Diverse Perspectives:
- The biggest lesson I’ve learned and what’s loudly apparent to me is that everyone sees the world differently. We all come from different countries, speak different mother tongues, have vastly different life experiences, and work from a different set of values (some closer in range, and some far apart). All of these perspectives hold value and they deserve equal levels of respect despite personal opinions.
- When I’m in a group, I often will evaluate myself and try to see how I fit into the group: what are my stakes, what expectations am I bringing into the conversation, and what am I possibly missing? What are the others’ stakes, what are their expectations, and what are they holding onto emotionally and mentally that might be unknown to me?
Challenging the Status Quo:
- It is natural to want to put our marks on something, to improve it, and make the work we do better for it. Similarly, it’s important to remember how we got here and all of the hard work that has been done before us. Someone was in my shoes many years ago, building a career and working towards putting their mark on the industry, too.
- Personally, I’m usually approaching problem-solving from a logical point of view, so I look at what I can do to improve how the established systems operate—and I ask the question, is it working well? What are the areas where people shine, and where are the areas that, if improved, would help everyone do what they do better? And at times, the challenge isn’t solely technical; it can be adaptive, or a combination of both. What I mean by “adaptive” are the non-tangibles—the underlying condition that might manifest in what seems to be a technical issue.
Ultimately, I endeavour to seek collaboration and start conversations with my community to learn and grow.
This article was originally published on TheatreArtLife.com. Written by TheatreArtLife contributor Bryan Runion.