Why can’t we just be honest?

Marc Kermisch
7 min readFeb 28, 2020
Why can’t we just be honest? Feedback as a gift.

How many times have you heard that “Feedback is a Gift”? When I was working at Target Corporation, this phrase was used so many times, that I had more gifts than I knew what to do with. Feedback piled up in the corner to the point that I felt like I had a scarlet letter on my chest declaring: “Moves Fast, Doesn’t Bring Others Along, Can come across arrogant, Overly Confident.” In fact, what I learned at my time at Target was that with all the gifts I received, I did not always get the context required for me to understand the impact that my strengths and opportunities were having on my career. In essence, while I was getting feedback that I had to work on (opportunities and strengths), I wasn’t always read in on the impact my actions, performance or behaviors were having on my future at Target. The conversations lacked that brutal honesty that may have sparked an effort to truly address the feedback I was getting.

What I often didn’t know is that the feedback around “Moves fast,” meant I was excluding others from discussions, making superiors feel inferior, glossing over others’ ideas, or not bringing others along on my thoughts. This outcome from my behaviors cemented perceptions about me in the organization, that I wasn’t totally aware of. What I didn’t always appreciate was how these perceptions may color a person’s willingness to support my initiatives, ideas, or advancement in the company, even if it was a subconscious reaction from them.

I believe that feedback is a gift, but that we have to provide more context into the discussion and describe the impacts of a person’s performance on others.

What I did appreciate about Target’s approach to talent development was that they were focused as much on your “How” you did your job vs. just the “What” you did. No matter the results you drove, if you left lots of dead bodies along the way, you would hear about it. Target recognized that to build the culture that they wanted, employee performance had to put equal weight on how you drove your results. I have had numerous discussions with employees in my career why the “How” you do your job is as crucial as the “What.” Where I believe Target fell down for me, is that if you weren’t leaving dead bodies on the side of the road…

Marc Kermisch

Technologist | Board Member | Advisor — with 25 years of experience across Retail, Manufacturing, Utilities, Financial Services and Start-ups.