Prior to the year 2000, drivers were reminded to always check their blindspot before pulling out of a driveway or changing lanes. Yet, accidents persisted. Awareness alone wasn't enough to mitigate the risks. As a result, many cars today include a comprehensive system of sensors, which collect a variety of information with the end goal of minimizing harm.
Likewise, blindspots are a leadership problem. We all have them, these behaviors and patterns that are inherent to what we do. Yet, we remain oblivious to the risk they bring. As is often the case, the first step in addressing an issue is acknowledging it exists. It's important to remember that blindspots are more than what we do, they're the impact you have on those around you.
Once you've gotten past that difficult moment of acceptance, you have an opportunity to develop a better warning system, just like the automotive industry.
It starts with feedback. Feedback is a way of gathering information with the intent of influencing future action. Feedback loops exist in two categories: affirming & constructive. Both types are essential for a healthy organization.
Affirming feedback loops are intended to encourage behaviors to continue and even increase. Think of this as opportunities to affirm what your team is doing right, and what you would love to see endure.
Constructive feedback loops are intended to counteract or change behaviors. This would be given on what needs to improve.
By incorporating both affirming and constructive feedback, you do more than just gather valuable information and minimize blindspots. You create an organizational culture that empowers and values the perspectives of many. Three things to consider as you develop a culture that welcomes feedback:
1) It starts with you. Intentionally model giving and receiving feedback from the top down.
2) Remember the good. Effective systems utilize affirming and constructive feedback loops to encourage authenticity and buy-in
3) Make it normal. Incorporate feedback into everyday experiences, whether formal reviews or daily meetings.
Ultimately, these practices reflect facets of humility in acknowledging fault and a willingness to grow. As the leader, you can influence the character and culture of the organization by proactively incorporating feedback loops into your organization’s daily life.