Striking a Balance: Honest Communication and Political Correctness ...
In today's world, being politically correct is a must for leaders. However, it can be taken to extremes, stifling honest communication and feedback. This is especially true in enterprise companies where a culture of political correctness may have taken over. In this blog post, we'll explore how to balance being politically correct with giving honest feedback, and why it's essential for success.
Political correctness as part of management styles
Communicating in a fair, non-discriminatory way is the absolute bare minimum and should be part of every leader’s management skills. Being conscious of gender equality, inclusivity, and equal rights is a top priority for today’s best organizations. The Black Lives Matter movement is empowering previously underrepresented people to speak up for their rights. At the same time, companies standing behind them try their best to shift focus on these crucial topics.
Hiding behind political correctness to avoid honest feedback
In my experience, some leaders hide behind these otherwise positive initiatives to avoid facing the truth when it comes to giving feedback. To them, on the surface, everything is perfect; everything is shiny. However, they fail to recognise that honest feedback is crucial for both the company’s, the team’s, the leader’s, and the employee’s best interests. I have seen multiple managers who communicated that they are satisfied with the employee’s skills and performance but still did not let them get the long-awaited promotion.
Giving honest feedback
The best leaders have an internal need for being honest. It does not go against political correctness to articulate poor performance, which, by the way, goes against both the company’s, the team’s, the leader’s, and the employee’s best interests.
Don’t be afraid of giving an honest review of work! The key to getting the message through is to communicate clearly and in a powerful way. Praise your team members if they succeeded because the right balance is essential. Even if you share ‘the bad news,’ it will lose its weight if not balanced well with a fair amount of positive feedback.
The best ways to give honest feedback
• Although an audience grants weight to all you, as the manager, say, I would instead suggest giving feedback during a one-to-one session. Let your team members decide what to share with others if he or she even wants to talk about it. The number one rule is to avoid public humiliation.
• Honest feedback doesn’t equal saying only negative things about the other. Start by articulating all the relevant positive points, like the strengths or achievements, following by the constructive feedback on faults if there are any, finishing off with some positive points again (Yes, the famous ‘sandwich’ tactic!).
• Don’t be shy about the adverse events. You wouldn’t believe how many managers are there who are afraid to provide criticism.
• If you have something negative to say, be constructive. Tell the other that their work is not good enough. Without outlining the underlying reasons, it will be taken as a rude, offensive comment.
• Put on your coaching hat and try to figure out with your subordinate what has led to this negative outcome. It would help if you emphasised that your organisation is an acceptable and supportive one, from which mistakes are opportunities to learn.
• If the cause is rooted deeper, create a plan to cover all aspects of things to do that aim to avoid the mistake to happen again.
Excellent and useful feedback is rare, so even though you might feel this to be difficult, it strengthens loyalty and will empower your image in the long run.