A Human Approach

Jae Rang Headshot

Feedback or Feedforward?

Aha! Moment Monday

Have you ever dealt with, worked with or lived with someone who boasts about being amazing at something all the while you roll your eyes?

Can you recall an encounter with an IT specialist who made you feel like you were the problem, a colleague who insisted customers were loyal because of her attention, or your college kid fully expecting A’s and achieving C’s?  You witnessed mediocre effort yet they were convinced they were exceptional?

Roll no more.  “If you’ve ever dealt with someone whose performance stinks, and they’re not only clueless that their performance stinks but they’re confident that their performance is good, you likely saw the Dunning-Kruger Effect in action.” Writes Mark Murphy in Forbes

The Dunning-Kruger Effect – a term coined in 1999 by then-Cornell Psychologist David Dunning and Justin Kruger – is a cognitive bias whereby people who are incompetent at something are unable to recognize their own incompetence.  Ironically not only do they not recognize their incompetence they truly believe they actually are competent.

Where’s the disconnect?

Aha! ~ “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” ~ Confucius

The irony of it all, notes Professor Dunning, that it’s the same knowledge and intelligence that is required to perform the task as well as recognize that the task is being performed well.

Sounds like a no-win situation but hold on.  By opening oneself up to feedback by those with an investment in your success, one can more easily move from being blinded by their own perceived brilliance to being celebrated as associate of the year.

The problem is – and statistics reveal – that, in the workplace anyway, only about 39% of people handle constructive criticism well.  That’s not to say that the rest entirely dismiss it but they may have a tendency to blame the standards by which they’re being measured, discount the quality of the feedback or surveys, or feel misunderstood.  Their frustrations appear as defensive behaviour.

On the other hand, the individuals who are open to improve do so by breaking down each component of their review in an effort to more fully grasp what’s expected as well as what’s required of them to get there.  Let’s be clear that this “review” could be as subtle as the quality of relationships you experience or blatant as a P&L.

“Everything in my environment is offering me feedback, if I will only listen.”   ~ Sharon Weil, author: ChangeAbility


Have your Aha Moment Mondays delivered right to your inbox… sign up.