Feedback is something that company leaders and managers often give yet rarely receive: the amount of times you’ve laughed at a joke told by a superior that just doesn’t tickle you confirms this concept. But if you and your boss are serious about growth and making the business you spend your life supporting actually work, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t speak up more often in a work context (about work things – we’d advise you to still offer an attempt at a chuckle for rapport).
Take the inimitable Sheryl Sandberg’s insights as an example. In her former role at Google, she learnt just how hard it could be for her employees to challenge her on decisions – and just how important it actually is for the growth and development of both herself and the company.
Chatting to LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman on his podcast, Masters of Scale, Sheryl recounts an occasion during her time as vice president of global online sales and operations at the iconic company where she decided to step aside from interviewing every single potential employee at the company, distancing herself from her inadvertent role as a recruiting bottleneck.
“I thought my [interviewing every new recruit] was that important. No-one else did,” she said of her decision, which was literally applauded by her staff members.
“I was their boss, I was their manager, if they didn’t tell me, that was on me and I realised, I have to make it safe for y’all to speak up when I’m messing up.”
Sheryl’s point is a fundamental one: no leader, no matter how great, is infallible and beyond feedback. There’s always another way of doing something and, as Instagram COO Marne Levine explained, even in your ‘lowliest’ role as a rookie, you can still contribute something profound.