These days I get more and more requests to provide feedback. The cashier at the food store, the mechanic at the car dealership, the waiter at the restaurant and the credit-card company, all want my feedback, usually through surveys. It does not stop there, the school that my kids go to, the organizers of the party we attend, the administration of the opera, it does not stop. An endless array of people on LinkedIn want to be endorsed by me and then there are the emails with requests to rate services and products. For most of these examples the surveyed anonymous feedback is enough of an instrument to direct their organization. Personally I like the surveys with open questions as I dream that someone actually reads the comments. The surveys I don’t appreciate are the ones that show through their questions that their view of good customer service is not what I value. For instance if the customer service rep answered the phone in one ring. I don’t care as long as I don’t get routed in an endless phone loop. Or the question if the representative was nice and called me by my name. I take professional and knowledgeable over friendly, I don’t want to date them, I just need my business taken care of.
One of the more important moments in management is when your are giving, or receiving, feedback. This feedback is very different from the above examples. When giving feedback to people directly it is important that they can consider the source, so it is important that you are clear about who is giving feedback to whom. You should not give anonymous examples like: “people in the department are saying” or “some customers told me”. Encourage the colleagues and the customers to give their own feedback and you stick to your own feedback. Your employee needs to hear from you how you evaluate him or her, what you value and what not and your suggestions on a path forward.
Feedback is supposed to lead to behavior change. If feedback does not change behavior, it is just providing comments and missed the most important aspect.
Feedback needs to relate to the goals that were set for this individual or for the organization.
Feedback needs to timely. You should not stack up all the points you want to make until the end of the year review and then start citing issues that bothered you 12 months ago.
In general the more feedback becomes a natural part of the working environment the better it is.
In any case remember to improve your feedback by ensuring that it is given:
- with a plan for action
- related to the goals
- and from personal observation
People will be grateful if you stick to these points and take considerable time to craft your feedback messages. It may improve performance, atmosphere in the office and productivity.
For a great perspective on giving feedback read the short interview with the VP people development at Google HERE