Courageous feedback

Check in regularly, handle tough conversations and bring out the best out of your peeps.

Courageous feedback
Photo by Samsung UK / Unsplash

It was a snowy Saturday morning. Sitting by the fireplace, the dog ignoring me while curled up in his bed, I was staring at my laptop. Was I going to be courageous or was I going to conform to the group?

As part of my Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching online residency, I was asked (a week ago) to provide feedback. The 10 hours a day session lasting from Monday to Saturday took a lot out of me. Some of the learning hit home right away, while some of the activities and YouTube videos were less impactful. How was I going to respond to the feedback request?

I considered what my feedback would accomplish. I mean, I'm going to attend weekly webinars with the three instructors for the next seven months. So, my constructive feedback had to:

  1. Clearly demonstrate that I am attentive to performance: I dropped a lot of money for this program, I want to extract as much out of the experience as possible.
  2. Signal appreciation: the team at Royal Roads is no joke, they come with years of experience and the faculty is ground breaking.
  3. Redirect undesired behaviour: I wanted to share what was hitting the mark for me (dated YouTube videos, forced "dancing" breaks, lack of clarity on outcome, etc.)
  4. Foster open communication: The feedback was meant to be anonymous, but I signed my name and encouraged them to reach out to me for clarity if needed.

As a leader for a large corporation, I know how to provide peers and direct report feedback. I give it generously and often when it's positive. When I see an opportunity to offer feedback to influence behaviours, I do it too because I've built positive relationships over years of showing up in support of others. However, on this cold Saturday morning by the fireplace, I had none of those ingredients:

  1. I was one of 50 virtual participants.
  2. I had never worked with the instructors.
  3. I had never provided them with positive feedback, and
  4. I didn't know if they were open to my observations. After all, our cohort was the 65th in the history of the program.

In the end, I gave the online residency 2 out of 5. I provided both positive and constructive feedback. I signed my name and encouraged our instructors to reach if they needed context. I sat on the request for a week before deciding to deviate from the norm. I did not conform. While I know others were going to use words like: "Life-changing" I took a different path.

I hope my feedback will bring out the best out of our instructors, I'm pretty sure it will and yet... I'm a bit nervous. Update on my dog - he's still ignoring me in his bed.