Criticism, Feedback and Dysfunction: An Interview with Shay McConnon

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If you would like to listen to the full conversation with Shay, please click here. The interview is approximately 20 minutes in duration.

Mihaly Nagy, CEO of The HR Congress series sat down with Shay McConnon, the creator of An Even Better Place to Work – the world’s first online, self-managed culture enhancing programme to discuss how relationship management within organizations is the key to developing a culture of intra-personal productivity and business success.

Much of Shay’s work with organizations takes place within the grey area of relationship management. He works with teams to analyse why dysfunctional relationships are a critical determinant of poor team cohesion, but also poor business performance. He often finds that the tragedy of relationships is that there is a general lack of intra-personal understanding – an understanding of how people need to be treated, how they are motivated, and what actually engages them. It’s clear that organizations need engagement from their employees, but the development of an ‘engagement culture’ or perhaps even an ‘experience culture’ fundamentally hinges on the ability of feedback within the organization to be expressed and understood clearly.

“Criticism is a clumsy way of describing an un-met need”

In order to minimize the un-met needs of the workforce (which is often due to a systemic frustration), is the establishment of pro-active change throughout the business. Shay suggests that people need a sense of existential and physical safety in order to be open and honest, however, they also need to accept and be open to two-way feedback. The construction of a social methodology needs to occur at all levels of the organization, so that the system is very simple and clear: ‘it’s how we do business here’.

In an age of ever increasing technological reach, face-to-face feedback is still as critical as ever. Leaders within the organization must understand that they set the soft-skill precedents, and that their assumptions about the working methods of their team may not be founded in reality. Thus, it is imperative that they make a distinction between leading the business, and leading the people in the business. This is an important point, as inefficiency usually stems from intra-personal issues that have been created and exacerbated by poor feedback routes, miscommunication and poorly interpreted signals. The overall dilemma of feedback is that it rests on many assumptions, which of course have to be broken down on an individual level to ensure clarity. Perhaps most importantly however, is that individuals must take ownership over communication channels to ensure feedback is given and received in the best possible manner.

“What am I going to do – not what is management going to do?”

Shay also suggests that conflict is only constructive if there is a greater ability to understand each other and each other’s needs at the conclusion of the conflict. The ugly truth is that a de-motivated employee is in conflict with the job because their individual needs are not being met. To reduce this risk, it’s critical that a kind of joint ownership system is enabled where there is a total partnership in communication. Quite simply: tell me what your needs are, and let’s work smarter!

Shay McConnon will present a keynote talk at the 3rd HR Congress Brussels on November 27-28. To connect with Shay, send him a request on LinkedIn or visit his website.

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