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The Mystery of Feedback !!

Companies are notorious when it comes to feedback.  There are countless systems developed, executed and utilized at all levels of an organization.  We want to know what people think !!  Or do we ??

Seriously, one of the areas that HR is thrust into on at least an annual basis is some sort of programmed, structured feedback.  You’ve all seen it.  It can come in all kinds of packages – Performance reviews, 360s, Employee Engagement surveys, one-on-ones, etc.  So much feedback is gathered that it’s actually very daunting !!  This is true because VERY little of the feedback taken in from employees is consistently acted upon.  This isn’t being cynical.  This is being realistic.

We should have a day when we take all of the past strategy meetings, brainstorming sessions and annual reviews out from the past five years.  Then we should list out all of the feedback and data that was given across the organization and within departments to see what percentage ever came to life.  It would be minuscule I promise you !!

Why is this?  I think there are some compelling reasons that need to be called out and then changed.

If you are gathering feedback in order to use reviews to “build your case” on an employee – stop it !!  If you need feedback on a few people, but you press the whole organization to participate – stop it !!  It’s time to take the mystery out of feedback.

Mystery BoxWhat do you actually mean by “feedback” ??  Are there parameters that people can follow?  What is the context as to why you’re gathering feedback and how is it going to be used? How is the feedback going to be given to the person that we’re reviewing?

Feedback can be a powerful tool IF (and that’s a gigantic if !!) it’s used for coaching and development.  If feedback is only gathered as a defense, or as a way to justify what you want to do with an employee, then you’re doing it wrong.  I know that’s a strong position to take but it’s legit.

Most feedback in organizations is negative.  We spend countless hours on fixing people’s weaknesses and gaps.  We even base entire compensation and bonus structures on what people don’t do.

Isn’t this backwards ??

What if you tried to measure people’s strengths?  What if you took time to give feedback on a regular basis at the time where it will be fresh, remembered and most poignant?

It’s time for HR to rip open the mystery box and not allow systems that continue to measure what’s not being done.  Your employees rock and want to do their best.  It’s an opportunity to blaze a new trail and differentiate both your organization and your great team members.  Build a feedback system with clear parameters that allow people to flourish instead of wondering when the next shoe will fall.

Trust me.  If you choose to do this (and I’m trying like crazy in my organization), then you will set a new standard of tangible development.  Feedback will be regularly and willingly given by employees.  It’s refreshing and you should try it !!

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16 thoughts on “The Mystery of Feedback !!

  1. Excellent points, Steve… Feedback should not be offered only when something is going wrong or that once a year annual review.

    We have implemented what we call the “331”. Three things going well – three things not going well – one thing I need help with. We do this mutually – the team member and their manager do it for one another.

    We have been doing the 331s for several months now and the feedback has been very, very good. It gives the leader and the team member the opportunity to share, celebrate, and provide constructive feedback. The first couple of times, it took an hour or so to complete the feedback. Today, we email them to one another prior and then meet for a half hour to discuss and clarify.

    Feedback has power – especially structured, tight feedback.

    Keep rockin’!

  2. Steve,

    The word “Kudos” is quickly becoming my online catch phrase for giving someone praise for blogging work and, that said, I give it to you. Another great article.

    Two items caught my attention and I list them below:

    What if you took time to give feedback on a regular basis at the time where it will be fresh, remembered and most poignant?

    Build a feedback system with clear parameters that allow people to flourish instead of wondering when the next shoe will fall.

    Again, thanks!

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