Friday Fury – Feedback!

I’ve been extremely fortunate of late. I’ve done loads of good work, been out and about at lots of events and met plenty of interesting people. A lot of this interaction has resulted in some really positive, supportive and lovely feedback. And even the stuff that’s not been lovely has been very useful in helping me to think about how I can improve. From conversations with Carole I know she has recently been getting lots of lovely useful feedback from the people she teaches to swim (plus a particularly yummy piece of chocolate feedback too). And so has Keira. Her improvements in drumming and school have resulted in well done’s, keep it going’s and even a couple of merit points. It’s all good.

But hang on a minute. Today is Friday, ain’t I supposed to be angry today? Hell yeah! I’m angry all right. I’m angry on behalf of all those  people doing good work in companies and getting no feedback at all, let alone anything lovely or useful. A few days back I tweeted about a piece of super client feedback and Neil Usher responded:

Tweet Feedback

Neil’s reply got me thinking back to my twelve and a half years in BT. I got well paid, I got a car, a pension, and lots of other things besides. But in all honesty one of the main reasons I left BT was an almost total absence of timely, useful feedback. And I know from many conversations with many people that BT is not alone. This void exists in many workplaces, and its absence serves no one well.

You’re probably reading this and thinking: What a soppy git/Get a life/Doesn’t know he’s been born/Insert patronising comment of your choice here. But I think feedback matters. A lot. Neil, well done on recently passing 4,000 reads on your new workessence blog, nice work feller.

So if you’re like me, Carole and Keira and you have recently received or given some positive, supportive, lovely feedback, please share it here – there’s a deficit needs filling. And if you haven’t spotted your colleagues doing something right lately, look harder. And when you notice it – just tell them. Simply and sincerely. Please.

photo credit

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

10 thoughts on “Friday Fury – Feedback!”

  1. Hi Doug

    Your angry photo and blog title got me intrigued so early this morning! I thought – how unlike Doug so I opened it …

    I have been having a rant of a different sort this week at organisations who treat their employees like cogs in a wheel rather than unique talented individuals who have solutions!

    I predict the pendulum has begun to swing the other way now we are moving out of recession and by the end of 2012, “unappreciated” and “unheard” employees will be leaving in droves.

    A simple Thank You or constructive feedback as you say is often all it takes.

    1. He he – thanks Katherine

      I think you are right re: cogs in wheels versus human beings. Bizarrely – simple feedback is not only hugely valuable, it’s also financially inexpensive to pass on. What’s not to like?

  2. I N T E R E S T I N G ……………..

    It’s hard giving feedback, especially if it is negative and even if you “positive-ise” the negative feedback. Few people get a kick from bursting someone’s bubble. Equally, giving positive feedback can be perceived as patronising by the recipient.

    OK … those are the extremes …… in the middle of that is the way that feedback can be given without hitting either of those. What I have found is that it is far easier to ask for and give feedback to those I know such as my team, those who support my programmes, my peers. “Cold calling” feedback I find a nightmare. Negative feedback, I play back to people through the impact of the actions rather than the actual event and I find that a first-person focus (ie: me) rather than third-person (ie: you) generally helps too

    Large companies also make feedback a process and everyone hates process (except process managers) plus it kind of dehumanises the whole thing.

    I’m with Katherine actually. A “thank you”, whether through face-to-face, phone call, email; an acknowledgement in the presence of others or even a quiet word with their manager (letting the person know you’ve done it) are the most effective ways of acknowledging someone’s contribution in a way that engages them, gives them that all important positive stroke and gives them permission to get that little bit closer to you as a manager / leader / colleague. As those barriers come down, everyone feels more engaged, part of the squad, energised, waiting for the next time.

    “From little seeds, great trees grow”.

    1. Useful thoughts thanks Chris, and I very nearly put the whole process thing into the blog post – very pleased you mentioned it.

      Something I recall from the days when we did business together when I was at BT – was the straight forward way we were able to give feedback to each other which led to good business being done. I appreciate it then and I still do now. Thank you.

  3. Great point, and on a slight tangent, my fury at a recent CIPD report stating that 62% of Managers got to spend 30 mins or less a month talking with each of their staff about their workload, objectives and any other work related issues.
    17% of the respondents said that their Manager always gave feedback compared to 46% of the Managers who thought they did!!

    That can’t be good and where is the time and focus for feedback in that!!

    1. Always the danger with surveys in my view – anything to do with “me” gets a good score, anything to do with “you” doesn’t.

      That doesn’t make it right but as a manager, I have an hour a week placeholders for each of my team but I expect them to run that hour, not me. Frequently that hour does not get used and I do not have the slightest bit of guilt about that because I believe that there must be personal responsibility rather than expectation of someone doing it all for you. There is no misunderstanding because this ownership is in their objectives too (and I have separate meetings for achievement against objectives!)

      It would be interesting to know what the Respondents considered feedback and what the Managers considered feedback. Perhaps “thank you” is not considered sufficient?

  4. Doug,

    I had a fantastic conversation last night with my older Scouts that included how to give feedback. We were talking about leadership, taking responsibility and motivating people. At 12 and 13, they got the point and are looking to put it into practice. Catching them young and instilling the motivational aspects of leadership including active feedback will reap dividends now and in the future.
    And then I failed!
    I forgot to tell them how well they had done in the discussion and how motivating for me it was. I shall do it tonight at our Troop meeting.

    1. You didn’t fail – you just temporarily forgot. And in so doing, created an opportunity to demonstrate the power of leadership this evening 😉

  5. Ah, feedback, my old friend.

    Best advice I ever got about feedback was to say thank you when receiving it, regardless of whether that feedback is good or (am I allowed to say it?) bad.

    Thank you helps us immensely in both situations.

    When feedback is good we can get embarrassed, bashful. We get clumsy and splutter out something like “Oh, really, no, it’s nothing, you know, I, er, no, really.” We can risk giving out a message that says “Your feedback is meaningless to me” or “I’m going to dismiss your kind words as irrelevant.”

    When feedback is bad then “Thank you” saves us from rushing to defend ourselves which is rarely a good idea. Say thank you even if you do not agree with the feedback. Feedback is not saying “I agree.” Take the feedback and ponder it.

    The bad feedback is where we can really learn and stretch ourselves.

    I came across a recent unexoected situation where this lesson also helped.

    I was delivering a full day session in America last week. During the lunch break a gentleman came up to ask me a question. He got a few words into his question and then interupted himself with this comment;

    “Wow, you’ve got beautiful eyes.”

    I was panicking. What did he say? Did I hear that right? What do I do with that? What am I supposed to say now? The feedback lesson then popped up in my memory and I responded “Thank you.” Nice and simple. “Now, you were saying…?”

    “Thank you” really is your flexible feedback friend.

    1. Thank you Neil, sincerely and succinctly.

      PS – you have indeed got beautiful eyes 🙂

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