The importance of being able to show your workings out, not just the answer
Being comfortable about not knowing what you are doing, which reminded me of this post
And we spoke about feedback and how to take it. Neil talked about the value of ‘Thank you’ when getting feedback which I’m starting to practice much more. I don’t take positive feedback very well and I need to learn to do it better. After all if someone’s taken the time and effort to feedback to me on a job well done I should be able to thank them and take it in the spirit the feedback is offered.
Neil puts it much better than I can so I’m going to hand the rest of this post over to him:
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 unexpected 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.
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:
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.
Budd, Humap and What Goes Around helped to organise and deliver the first Stop Doing Dumb Things unconference on November 23rd. If you missed it, the next one will be on 27th June 2012 – watch this space for more details. The photo above was taken by Martin Couzins and shows some (we couldn’t fit everyone into one shot!) of our guests unconferencing.
One of our guests called me after the event and he simply described the day as “an outstanding experience”. What a lovely thing to say. We’ve been in touch with all our guests and asked them for feedback. Of course many of you have already seen some immediate feedback provided on the Twitter stream, and in the spirit of sharing and continuous improvement, here’s what we’ve learned from our guests so far:
‘I want to thank you for last Wednesday.
The whole notion, the speakers, the range of ideas and approach of the unconference. The food, the location. The organisation, which despite its seemingly chaotic nature at first, all makes sense now and I can’t fault in the slightest! Courage to do it differently. The variety in approach. The quality of discussion. The forum for airing and exploring ideas. Informal, conversational style, audience participation. Saw it more as an ideas conference – flying kites. Quirky venue, shame about the sound and the room could have had a bit more heat!
Thank you so much for being brave enough to put this type of conference on, but don’t settle there, keep pushing the boundaries.’
‘Thanks again for today’s SDDT, had an absolutely fantastic time and have so much enthusiasm to take back to my role that wasn’t there before. Already looking forward to next year!’
‘Thank you for the day, I did not know what to expect, but it was very thought provoking and I am still thinking about it as there was a lot to take in. I wished that I had taken a photo of the art; I hope that it could be photographed and sent to everyone as that is a great way to remember, a fantastic way to take minutes of a meeting…I am glad that I attended, thank you very much’
‘It was certainly different and I did enjoy myself. I hope you did too.’
‘I liked the flow of the day and the focus on the issues that people wanted to talk about, but some of the conversations in the afternoon ended up being very similar, and sometimes too definition focused. If I was being critical there were a lot of “nice” conversations i.e. people talking about the same challenges without any “well how do we change?” what do I make the changes in the organisation to make these things happen. Talking about similar issues has a lot of benefit and it’s good to talk to other professionals outside of one’s own organisation, I like to take away something about the practical actions to make change and the session that you kicked off started that, so perhaps that element could be the focus of the next meeting?
the venue was great, a non-office or hotel environment added to the day, as did the non-use of organisational names..
I thought the “Art minutes” was a fantastic idea and could really be exploited.’
‘Thanks for a great day – hope to come next year. One suggestion – maybe you could ring-fence an hour on the day for people who want to be able to facilitate discussions they want to lead. They could do a 30-sec pitch and wander off to different corners and people could come and join in. Lightening talk sessions could also be good. Although I felt the collaborative approach worked in determining the topics, it did feel that the conference missed some straight forward presentation with Q&A. Finding a way to empower people (as some interesting people there) to share what they want, how they want, would be good. I did find it surprising on the day how restricted many of the attendees were in their place of work and lack of buy in to the customer experience within the wider business.’
‘I really enjoyed the unconference. The opportunity to meet so many like-minded people was really great. In your own environment you can get really blinkered, and fresh ideas can seem to come rarely. I left SDDT with so many fresh ideas, so much future hope and real inspiration to help more people discover a facilitative, autonomous approach to tackling issues. I gained some great advice and contacts.
You’ve been a real inspiration, thank you for having and helping me. I really hope I can come again next year!’
‘Thanks again for an inspiring day last week.
Never been to an unconference before, and I am quite shy/outside my comfort zone at these sort of events (I am really a techie – should explain everything). The people made it – but then in hindsight I think you can’t go wrong at an unconference about engagement – you’ve got people attending who want to engage about engaging…. After the first table of the world cafe I knew I was going to enjoy the day.
1) World Cafe at the beginning was very good for getting into the swing of things. I enjoyed that. At one point the table I was sat on we weren’t too sure what the aim/question was – I think it was a result of each of us having had different discussions/perspectives – and last table I sat at I think we were taking the conversation more where we wanted to (I think). Which was fine (and interesting).
2) I joined the measurement and feedback discussion and it got hard to hear the discussion – I think just because the size of the group especially if someone was more softly spoken. But also the group was probably too big because the discussion was dominated by a few although most others did join in. There was no leader/chair and I didn’t have the confidence to chair the talk. There was some good stuff covered, and some not so relevant to me (goes with the territory, it’s fine), but our summary was weak and I came away feeling like good conversation, interesting, can I remember any of it? Little nuggets…
Thinking about expectations – I wanted to hear what was on others minds, so the “not so relevant” was more than fine. As we frequently say about our work/clients – we’re low down the list of priorities to our clients, and the whole day was really useful just seeing the bigger picture, various things that don’t get discussed between our client and us when it comes to them saying “I’d like to do this customer survey…”
One other expectation. I expected more H.R. people present, but I think it was more customer focused? As we found out on the day, engagement means so many things to different people!
3) Lunch very good. Happy with the produce, quality, quantity, format…
4) After lunch – what works was the weakest. It might work better next year if some of us are prepared for this sort of session – e.g. little things we can share that have worked for us/our clients?
5) The 10 minute problems session was surprisingly very good. I feel I helped the people I conversed with, and I asked a genuine question that sort of arose during the day. I felt not alone, and good karma!
Other things. The cartoonist was a nice touch, fun, curious to see at work. Also the twitter feed (essential these days). I think your communications before the event were good and helped prepare us. I would really like a list of names/companies/twitter contacts who attended (I didn’t give out my business card but I think I should have – my naivety(!) – there were a couple of conversations that I’d like to try and pick up and I thought I’ll find so-n-so on LinkedIn or Twitter. It’s not that easy!) – that’s a lesson for me next time.
What did you get that you expected to get? Different perspectives, better understanding from the company viewpoint (rather than my service providers pov)
What did you get that you did not expect? More than anything, confidence.
What didn’t you get that you expected?Nothing (I didn’t expect a lot)
What did you learn that you can use? What others struggle with – we’re thinking hard about – how can we take account of that (their challenges) in feedback and measurement (help them solve those challenges). I don’t think I can explain this in an email properly! It’s sort of intangible.
Overall, excellent. Consider my response to have ticked the top box or given an NPS score of 10! I’m keeping the 27th June free.’
We think we helped to do a good job and we know we will do even better next time. If you attended or listened in via Twitter and you would like to add further feedback, we’d love to hear from you.