I was 21, I’d started working in a corporate and was super keen to impress my boss. But in my first few months she took me aside and told me I was stepping on people’s toes by being ‘too helpful’ and that maybe I should focus on my own job before putting my hand up so quickly.
I was gobsmacked. And 24 years later I can remember exactly how that meeting made me feel.
My manager had the capacity to develop my emotional intelligence, and instead, she crushed my spirit. When I finally left the company, I thanked her for the bouquet of flowers but inside I hadn’t forgiven her.
When I first thought about this e-mail, I was going to make it about how careless comments can knock someone’s confidence to the ground. But that’s blinking obvious, isn’t it?
What this story is really about is my manager. Let’s call her Jenny.
Had Jenny received any training on delivering feedback. What was the feedback culture within the business? Had she ever had coaching? Was she good technically but not very emotionally intelligent herself?
How can we expect our managers to have great, emotionally intelligent conversations if we don’t first share with them how it’s done? In my experience, lots of people are missing the mark and it’s not for the want of trying.
It all starts with building trust.
Imagine if Jenny had spent time looking for times she’d seen me doing things particularly well. And then fed back her observations.
What about if she’d then asked ME for feedback? Maybe asking how I’d found the onboarding process.
When it came to finally talking about how I could better respond to enquiries that came into the team, it’s likely I’d have been much more receptive to her suggestions.
How can you start role modelling good feedback habits, so your super-keen new starters develop into the next generation of emotionally mature leaders?