Feedback
Oxford defines it as : information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement.

Scientists and Engineers define it as : Feedback occurs when outputs of a system are routed back as inputs as part of a chain of cause-and-effect that forms a circuit or loop.

In very simple terms – Feedback is a means of authentic and reflective self-improvement. In my view, it is the strongest tool available for professionals in all capacities to reflect on their behavior, their performance, and their overall growth ecosystem.

For Leaders, it is a tool of embracing openness, authenticity, and constructive criticism. When as a leader you appreciate and value the feedback given by the team, then the team starts to be open to receiving feedback. If a team only gets feedback but is never asked for by the leader, then the team doesn’t see a genuine role model for feedback. In one other situation I was having a focused group discussion with a team of high performing individual contributors being considered for a Leadership Development Program.

After 15 mins into the program, having validated my intent for their development, they realized they better open up their cards to me and one of them started to speak how the Sr. leaders here were respected for their knowledge and their networks and many other positives. And then I asked, “What is one thing you’d like to see them change?” After a long silence (me being very comfortable with it – do read my article on the Sword of Silence in January 2022), one of them said: “The way they take feedback?”.

I said what do you mean by that? And to conclude, it all boiled down to the fact that the leaders by and large were very open to asking for feedback and even welcomed it, but the feedback wasn’t evident in their actions thereafter. So, they had stopped sharing it.

PAUSE. Reflect on your own behaviors of asking, welcoming, and acting on feedback. What is it you do
well? What is it you need to finetune? What is it you need to develop?

So, let’s answer three questions now:

Q1 What stops people and customers from giving or accepting feedback?

1. No one wants to be the messenger : Just like a customer who has had a bad experience but doesn’t want to go through the hassle or the embarrassment of complaining, many employees feel ‘let it be’ and thus don’t offer feedback. Mostly because they don’t want the relationship or their own image of A NICE PERSON to get hampered.

UNBLOCKER : Not offering genuine feedback is more of a disservice to the relationship.

2. Motivated Blindness : It’s not my job. Why do I care? Not my monkey, not my circus. Well feedback is not about a department or a team member, every employee is in your team. Taking ownership for the company’s image means giving timely and valuable feedback to the team member as a brand custodian not because he or she is or isn’t with my team. Thus, we get blinded to not offering feedback.

UNBLOCKER : If you care, then do it. Don’t get muddled with my and yours. It’s us. It’s about creating a better WE.

3. Makes me / us look incompetent : The word feedback itself seems alarming to many. And thus, when even a small suggestion is provided, most people jump to defend it and start giving excuses to why I did, what I did or why you are not being able to see it my way. Here there are two problems: 1. The person providing feedback starts to doubt his efforts. 2. The person getting the feedback dissolves the purpose of the entire process.

UNBLOCKER : Feedback is not about you did wrong or you are incompetent. It’s about how you can get better, and you can only know how you can get better, when you are willing to listen to what the other person is trying to say.

Q2 What are three primary things to do when feedback is given?

Acknowledge : Start with a posture of listening into the feedback. Sit down, have water, or take a diary and pen to make notes for the feedback. The idea is to get dispassionate about the feedback so that your objectivity increases, and your emotions are well-regulated. Starting with a THANK YOU FOR THE FEEDBACK after you have heard it all, is a great way to gracefully acknowledge it. Even a “I’ve heard you and allow me to analyze it.” Is another wonderful way to take it all in.

Remember : Acknowledging doesn’t equate to Accepting

Clarify : Just giving feedback doesn’t mean my job is over. And just blindly accepting it doesn’t mean I start working on it. There are many slips, between the cup and the lips. As a feedback receiver, you have the right to ask clarifying questions to validate the objectivity of the feedback. I’ve heard, It has come to my notice, I feel that…. Are opinions, not necessarily constructive feedback. So do ask questions to: a. clarify things that aren’t clear b. seek examples and facts c. seek suggestions and expectations.

As a feedback provider, it is essential you stand there and clarify questions, doubts and even attached
emotions for the one receiving it. Feedback could open up a world of emotions and helping deal with those emotions is a skill and sensibility one must learn to be great at giving feedback.

Act : Analyze, introspect, and crystallize the feedback. Ask yourself one fundamental question: “What value does this hold for me?” Other questions could include: As a feedback provider, it is essential you stand there and clarify questions, doubts and even attached emotions for the one receiving it. Feedback could open up a world of emotions and helping deal with those emotions is a skill and sensibility one must learn to be great at giving feedback.

  • What am I not seeing about myself?
  • What standards of performance am I missing out on and why?
  • How would my outlook or behavior change when I start to implement this feedback?

Action has a lot to do with conviction. And conviction comes only when you question your current beliefs and thus start becoming open to embrace new beliefs. Close Looping your feedback is another great mindset of a Feedback Champion.

Example: Hey buddy I worked on your feedback, and this is one benefit I saw. Thank you for being courageous to show me the mirror. Mr. Customer, your complaint had been resolved a week back, how is your product functioning now? Is there still something else we could do for you? Managing a complaint or feedback well ensures customer satisfaction. But close looping feedback results in customer loyalty.

Q3 What’s In It For Me?

Giving or Receiving feedback constructively can have 7 prime benefits:

  • Openness in the relationship
  • Promotes authenticity
  • Increases performance potential’
  • Heightens self-awareness
  • Cements loyalty in the relationship
  • Is a test to your communication skills
  • Matures Emotional Intelligence

If you have any more benefits of feedback to add to this list, any specific questions that are unanswered by this article or any personal challenges you’d like to seek suggestions on, please write to me on vikas@namanhr.com

I’d also love to hear your feedback on this article and maybe suggestions on what more would you like for me to write on or in other words what more would you like to read on.

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