Mentor urges executives to change their ways

David Rowley

By

06/08/2015

Delegates at the FEAL National Conference were asked to stand on one foot with their eyes closed to illustrate how a lack of feedback could harm them. Kamal Sarma, chief executive of Rezilium, said that without visual feedback it was harder to balance.

He linked the exercise to the danger of having the most junior staff in an organisation receiving the most feedback, while the most senior executives made the most important decisions, yet received the least.

Sarma said too many organisations use 20th century styles of business, such as top down hierarchies with ‘command and control’ styles of leadership, which discouraged the delivery of feedback to senior executives. Best practice today was for businesses to have nimble and flat hierarchies, with greater trust given to staff, and that instead of working in silos it was more about project-based work.

“Domination is still the main model for communication. [However] if someone feels dominated they are unlikely to give feedback,” Sarma said.

He gave the example of poor practice from the words of a senior executive he mentored, who said: “Kamal, I am really struggling to motivate my subordinates”.

To encourage a culture of feedback, organisations needed to create a culture of appreciation. He pointed out that one of the most common phrases heard in exit an interview is “I do not feel appreciated”.

He advised senior executives to give appreciation that was authentic, humble and which showed vulnerability. He gave an example of an executive saying “thanks for delivering the report on time” being made more authentic and humble by adding the words “it meant I was confident in presenting it”.

He phrased this advice with the statistic that 80 per cent of stress reported by employees comes from team-related issues, but that 50 per cent of people would rather quit their job than address such work-based issues.