Even Spies Need Regular Feedback at WorkBy Nicole Rogers on September 14, 2011 in How To...
You’d think a clandestine operative secretly combating terrorism behind enemy lines would have little in common with most office workers. But a recent case before the Canadian courts suggest that when it comes to feedback at work, spies aren’t that different from the rest of us.
After he was fired by CSIS, Canada’s version of the CIA, for compromising security and jeopardizing their credibility, Mark-André Bergeron filed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the spy agency. Like many employees on the job, Bergeron told the court he had no idea there was a problem. He argued that he fell victim to unfair processes involving a “lack of transparency” at work that left him “unable to explain himself. ” Indeed, Bergeron believed he always “complied with CSIS values” and gave “the best that he had to offer.”
The courts agreed, and found CSIS at fault for not providing enough evidence for why they fired him.
Making the Case for Feedback
Earlier this year, an internal study by Google determined that what employees valued most were “even-keeled bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped people puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in employees’ lives and careers.”
Bergeron said the arrival of a new supervisor changed the tenor of his employment. He told the court, “he had shaken hands with the devil and he could do nothing to make him happy.”
While it’s possible Bergeron didn’t have the chops to be a great spy, its also likely that regular, timely feedback from his boss could have alerted the spy to potential issues with his performance on the job before they escalated to a fireable offense.
Every James Bond film includes a scene in which his boss, M, provides frank, real-time feedback on his job performance. Though the cavalier 007 always ignored it, at least he knew how he was doing and what his manager was thinking.
You can read the full story about the fired spy here.