However, once we got the thumbs-up and began writing in earnest, I realized that, while the concepts and tips in this book could be used just about any time two or more people are interacting, the goal really was never to write a book to help people manage their relationships with their mothers, sisters, partners, or teenagers. My true aim was, and remains, helping organizations and the people in them get better, stronger, and more engaged. That's my passion, that's my life, that's what I was put here to do. Suddenly, just a few days into our writing, I told Laura about my revelation, and we agreed that this would definitely be a business book—specifically, one focused on making the world of work a better place through better feedback.
That evening I shared this news with my husband (who also serves as my line editor). He quickly agreed that this was a good idea—almost too quickly.
"You know, this absolutely makes sense," he said. After a pause, he added, "I mean, it's not like you're some kind of relationship expert." Well, he was right, but that stung a bit. Still, there's hope that editing this book helps improve his feedback skills.
I give you this peek behind the creative curtain only to make it clear that this book was written through an organizational lens. It's about people and work and helping each other thrive in that environment. That doesn't mean you can't use these ideas and tips in the rest of your life, of course; if you find it helps you improve communication with your teenager or your spouse, then that's a bonus. But before you apply anything you find in this book to your personal life, remember this important fact: I am not a relationship expert. Just ask my husband.
FEEDBACK SHORTCOMINGS, FEEDBACK SUCCESSES
Your business will only rise to the level of your people. This simple truth has been my guiding principle as I've built and
sustained environments where people advance rapidly, where they're frequently stretched to their maximum potential, and where clients demand the best of them every day. In every organization I've led, people are the only true assets. In real terms, that means business performance is directly correlated with the performance of the team and the individuals in it. Sure, that holds true for just about every business, but in professional services like consulting, it's hard-coded. The rates you charge, the work you win, the extent to which clients are willing to place their trust in you and your team, and the quality of support you provide are completely dependent on the capabilities and strengths of your people.
Where does feedback enter this picture? Well, without meaningful feedback and coaching, my people don't grow, and they don't succeed. And if my people don't succeed, neither does my business. Given the fact that I have a long track record of developing great consultants and thriving organizations, I must be the Queen of Feedback, right?
Wrong. I'm the first to admit that I also have work to do. What's more, my own organization sometimes struggles to meet its aspirational goal of sustaining a culture of open and candid feedback. Trying to understand the dichotomy between my feedback shortcomings and my success in developing people and organizations has led me to explore my experiences with and beliefs about feedback. The conclusions I've come to are reflected not only in the ideas I'll share with you, but also in the habits and practices that my people and I apply every day in our work.