Keith Ferrazzi, founder and CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight, writes in Who’s Got Your Back an argument for individuals to develop support circles to further personal and professional development. Xenium’s book club selected Ferrazzi’s book and gave it a read for July’s meeting.
For Ferrazzi, members in such support groups (which meet regularly) can assist each other with issues directly related to business. They also can help each other in identifying personal problems which may be influencing counter-productive behavior in their professional lives. Members of these groups may be considered lifeline contacts.
The text is filled with many anecdotes regarding Ferrazzi’s own experiences in such groups as well as experiences relayed to him by others. Some of these stories may at times appear too picture-perfect, but nonetheless get across a point that successful experiences can emerge from these groups. (That is, it is doubtful that many people emulating Ferrazzi’s professional support circles are actually going to witness a cathartic confession of personal struggle by a powerful business leader.)
However, people developing their own support circles still are likely to arrive at numerous realizations and benefit from the interactions. This comes from the methods of discussion used by the support circles. Ferrazzi points out the use of the Socratic method in theses circles. These groups really get at the heart of business problems by asking questions, identifying contradictions in practice, and considering issues with great focus. By asking more and more questions and analyzing the issue one can arrive at a greater understanding of the problem.
In applying the idea of these teams to the workplace and organizational culture, Ferrazzi expands on the idea of team member evaluations or peer reviews. Ferrazzi thinks that ideally (and eventually over time) co-workers should feel comfortable to provide constructive criticism face-to-face. This may be startling to some, as it is contrary to popular use of anonymous electronic or paper surveys.
Examples of this genuine, well-intentioned criticism in the workplace are located throughout the book. One particular story surrounds an employee informing his boss that he wished the supervisor didn’t refer to electronic devices while talking with co-workers. The employee felt disconnected from the boss in these interactions as a result; the employee felt as if his supervisor wasn’t really listening to him. When the boss thanked the employee for pointing this out and changed his behavior, the employee and his co-workers felt much better about their interactions with the supervisor.
While the book doesn’t illustrate examples of failed, uncomfortable situations of constructive criticism from one employee to another, it nonetheless provides a framework for developing an attitude and environment for comfortable exchanges. As pointed out in Xenium’s book club meeting, a degree of understanding will eventually be arrived at. That is, once a company is utilizing such personal review it should be within the nature of the organization and individual for co-workers to communicate effectively and arrive at mutual understandings.
The end result? Greater professional development, within both the individual and company, and greater employee satisfaction.