Make it easy for people to tell you how badly you suck.

A little less than two years ago when I hired my first employee, I couldn’t have been more excited to begin supporting the young rock star I speak of often, @marcelosomers

And before I ever met Marcelo, during a challenging first year at the company I today am happy call home, I decided that one thing I wanted to do for every employee I hired was to share with them a valuable lesson I learned during that time. 

Sometimes situations in your organization will change outside of your control, and you are going to have no choice but to work for a manager who doesn’t offer the guidance or support you need, but the most valuable way to spend those times is not to bail – it’s to buckle-up and learn. 

You can turn that potentially negative experience into a goldmine of future insight – cheesy as it may sound, it’s true.

I simply bought a Moleskine and wrote down everything I learned from this particular manager about how his missteps made me feel, and what, at that moment, I wish he had done differently. Today, I refer to it often.

So, I decided I would give every employee I had the opportunity to manage in career a Moleskine for exactly that… in exchange? They had to commit to sharing as often as possible any time they had negative experience or could suggest improvement with me in how I manage them.

I started my Moleskine during that first post-graduate year of 2007, and after having now gone through six different managers over the last three years, I’ve learned a lot. The reward amount I have noted at the front if lost has gradually increased as the months and years go by.

Feedback, good feedback, sometimes is hard to come by. And many times employees are too timid to give the hard truth in semi-annual reviews. Hopefully, the encouragement to document those times when I, quite frankly, suck as a manager, will help us both immensely in the long-run.

The amusing part is that when I originally bought these Moleskines, I decided to buy in bulk and save a few bucks, not realizing it might be quite awhile until I had managed ten different people.

And just today while cleaning out a drawer, I found the remaining 8 from that first batch that are still blank pictured above.

It’s inspiring to think about how much my blunders (and hopefully a few of my positives along the way as well) will teach my future employees on the currently blank pages of these Moleskines… and I can’t wait to one day hear about the areas in which I suck the worst.

Let there be no doubt, feedback is a gift.

So my humble advice? Always make it easy for people to tell you how badly you suck.

Would love to hear feedback from any of you on what you do to encourage 360 degree reviews as a manager, or what your managers have done to encourage that with you as an employee?

2 thoughts on “Make it easy for people to tell you how badly you suck.

  1. BruceRosard says:

    You crack me up. I encourage 360 degree reviews by having regular check-in meetings with all direct reports, which works well. I don’t mind telling people they suck and having them tell me too.

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