Every time I engage in a transaction or renew a membership, I am asked for feedback. I receive feedback after events and meetings I organize with clients and colleagues. The problem with feedback is that we rarely know how to give it, and seldom learn how to take it. Why is that?
Maybe we fail to recognize that feedback is a conversation -- it goes both ways. The way we engage in it speaks as much about how we think and who we are and want to be as it does about the circumstance, transaction, or product and service in question. Feedback is highly subjective. Yet we can learn to think about it in more ways than one.
The Company Survey -- How?
Do you really, honestly want to know? Are you writing your questions and asking them in a way that directs responses to confirm your theories, or are you willing to consider changes as a result of the conversation? How do you filter feedback?
We all know that, on the other side, it is pretty hard to provide feedback. Maybe we were in a bad mood, or maybe we were distracted and not listening/reading actively. So we go ahead and transfer our state of mind onto the questionnaire and charge it with intentions it did not have.
How do we keep a good balance between asking the right questions at the right time and helping people provide us with the information we need? Ask too much, or too soon, and people will disengage pretty quickly -- everyone is busy and so many things vie for our attention. Ask too little and too late, and people will think that you don't care.
The Exit Interview -- Why?
I was talking with a Commander of the Naval Air Engineering Station recently on the topic of leadership and this subject came up. Since I just recently had one of those, I thought it interesting that his take was quite similar to mine.
Have a process to capture information and feedback from staff who choose to leave your employ and those who are let go. You want to ask a lot of open, why questions, sit back and listen. This is the best opportunity you have to receive information from someone who supposedly has nothing more to lose.
To be realistic, often people leave for better jobs or because they just got to the point where they could not see themselves as part of your team anymore. They may be quite unprepared to provide candid and constructive commentary.
So to those who are in a position to help a company with 'why' I say -- think of it as a chance to lead, even if you had none in the course of your employment, even if you were let go. This is your chance to choose the high road, to be helpful and stay positive. In the long run, you care more about your self esteem and about helping your former colleagues.
Can social media be a tool for learning how to share constructive feedback?
[image of Italian actor Toto' who starred in 97 movies from 1937 to 1967 and was versed in all kinds of theatrical genres]