See Something? Say Something #562

by Sue Hawkes

It’s amazing to me how otherwise great leaders diminish their opportunities to build trust by withholding feedback until it’s too late to correct the behavior. 

Time and again, I’ll be working with a leadership team and one or more people will wait until the end of our full day meetings to offer constructive feedback that would have changed our day and our experiences for the better. 

As teams learn, grow, build trust, and mature, they improve immensely into learning to say something when they see something. Too often, teams wait until the end of the meeting to deliver corrective feedback and also rarely offer suggestions as to what behavior(s) need to change and from whom. It’s as if they’d rather suffer through another ineffective meeting they’ll complain about privately than suffer the momentary disappointment from their teammates when they hear feedback in the moment, and are able to correct themselves resulting in a more effective meeting.  

When you wait and tell people what went wrong after the fact, meaningful feedback can sound like criticism. It also diminishes trust as the team wonders why you waited to say something, knowing all along, and at best, makes you look like an observer, at worst, makes you look like a critic. One thing it certainly does not make you? A great teammate. 

What do great leaders and team do? 

  1. When you see something, say something. Though it may cause a pause, your redirection will help everyone adjust and create value. 
  1. Don’t rely on “someone else” to say something. No one else may be experiencing what you are, and that’s okay too. That may be an opportunity for feedback for you. 
  1. Deliver your message neutrally and with respect. 
  1. Take a break if you need time to think about how to say what you need to. Better to interrupt and improve than wait like a sniper after it’s too late. 
  1. Include ways for yourself to get better when asking others to do so, your humility goes a long way. 
  1. If you’re still uncomfortable, preface what you’re about to say with something like this “I’m uncomfortable saying this, but feel like I have to say something ….” 
Sue HawkesSee Something? Say Something #562