Foster Employee Growth Through Team Feedback

Beatriz Boavida
Feb 05, 2024
3 min read

What if we told you that bluntly speaking about someone else’s life and work (in front of them) with a group of people could be life-changing for them?

This is the essence of Nathan Barry’s feedback strategy – the unsolicited advice

We all have thoughts about what other people are doing, but we don’t share those thoughts out of politeness. Sometimes though, that advice can be super valuable. Nathan Barry

Although similar to the more traditional 360 feedback, unsolicited advice has a twist – everything that is shared is indeed UNSOLICITED. Thus, it is a powerful reality check tool as well as a surprisingly effective tool to promote action and better alignment towards personal and organizational goals. 

Nonetheless, if it is not done properly, it can be a terrifying experience. So, how can you apply the unsolicited advice exercise in your team?

Set the scene and change the mindset

The first time you do it, your employees may feel quite anxious. Usually, people expect to hear negative feedback and harsh opinions about them. Some employees may be even sceptical towards unsolicited advice as it is generally perceived as a way for their peers to flaunt and achieve their own goals.

When you first meet with everyone for the session, explain the purpose of the exercise and the perspective they should embody – “What is one thing I can share with this person that can make them better, and how am I helping them grow as a person?”. This will strengthen a sense of trust that others are also looking for your great accomplishments.

The 4-steps to give employee feedback like Nathan Barry

For each employee feedback session, whenever possible, get out of the office. A new environment, away from work, can help everyone be 100% present. Here are the steps to make it a successful experience:

  1. Gather a small team – usually between 4 to 8 people.
  2. You (as a group) then have 10 minutes to talk without filters about someone in the “hot seat” as if they were not there.
  3. The person in the hot seat is NOT allowed to speak during those 10 minutes. They may only take notes – on their computer or paper, they can pick what best suits them.
  4. After this, the person on the hot seat gets the chance to ask questions and respond for 5 minutes. Avoid defending yourself at this point, instead focus on the actions you can take from there.

Seems easy?

Keep quiet and just listen

This is perhaps the most challenging part of the whole exercise. When you are in the hot seat, it is almost inevitable that you will feel the urge to defend yourself and explain the reasoning behind each decision you make.

“We judge ourselves based on our intentions. Outsiders can only judge based on actions and outcomes” – Nathan Barry

Take a deep breath. And listen. Allow yourself to accept what others are saying – question yourself why they might be saying what they are saying. Remember, the constructive feedback you hear is probably what will lead you to greater growth.

Key takeaways

Employee feedback, especially unsolicited ones, can effectively prompt growth. It makes you rethink your decisions, realign your values and actions, and plan towards a more successful future.

You can facilitate Nathan Barry’s unsolicited advice exercise with these easy steps:

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