I recently accepted an invitation to meet with the CMO of an Internet analytics firm for a briefing and demo of her companyâ€™s flagship dashboard product. It was interesting, but the demo and presentation flow had flaws that overshadowed promising aspects of the product. I immediately started providing feedback, including some unexpected and blunt criticism.
I emailed her back later that day and thanked her for sharing her product and company story, and underscored my feedback was offered with only the best intentions (to help). She quickly replied that my comments were valuable and to the point, and they surfaced shortcomings that were preventing her team from realizing their vision. And then she asked if she could follow up with me during her next New York trip to provide an update and collect more feedback. I enthusiastically replied â€œof course!â€
I can be a tough critic, so I admire this CMO for her thick skin and receptivity to my unvarnished response. It opened the door for rapid improvement and ongoing collaboration. Itâ€™s important to remember that constructive feedback is a gift, even if abrasive. And exchanging it usually takes courage from both the giver and the receiver. And any hesitance on one side can ruin it for both.
Too often people donâ€™t provide honest feedback because theyâ€™re worried the person receiving it will react defensively. Worse, they donâ€™t provide feedback because theyâ€™re afraid the person receiving it will be offended. Those are bad outcomes.
In my case, Iâ€™m satisfied we achieved the optimal outcome.