Punch in the Face - The Ultimate Feedback

Punch in the Face - The Ultimate Feedback

In a previous article, ‘Work yourself out of a job,’ I mentioned that it is important to understand your subordinates through feedback.  However, if you have low Emotional Intelligence (EQ) like me, then sometimes a punch in the face is the only feedback that is understood. Unfortunately, the majority of feedback is subtle or indirect.

It is debatable whether or not EQ can be taught (believe me my wife has tried), but if you have low EQ there are techniques that will help:

  • The key is communication
    • Tell everyone you lack EQ up front – if you set expectations, here is what a lack of EQ looks like:
Example: I did not notice one of my Airmen was overloaded due to personal reasons, but my MSgt pulled me aside to explain the situation. This allowed us to create time for the Airman to get his personal life in order.
    • Conduct regular feedback sessions with direct subordinates and ask them how their teams are doing
    • Make a habit of talking to your people to show you care (it should include things beyond work -- eg. family, hobbies, and future aspirations)
      • The larger the organization the more difficult it is to do this
      • Personal engagements will go more smoothly if you create ‘mini-bios’ on your people and study them beforehand
  • Leverage teammates who have high EQ or use the ‘bro network’
    • You don’t have to do everything yourself – teamwork is always stronger than any individual
  • Solicit anonymous feedback
    • I have seen commanders set up a comment drop box away from the unit
    • Flight Commanders or shop chiefs can set up a comment box outside the office door
    • Set up a whiteboard outside the office door which allows subordinates to make suggestions
Hopefully this article has inspired ideas of how to improve understanding through feedback. Who knows, it may help save you from being punched in the face.


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