I'm a fan of the show "Dancing with Stars", not so much to watch the stars, but to see the feedback every week that allows the participants to actually get better - even become fairly decent dancers within a period of weeks. The feedback to help them progress is generally targeted, specific practice ideas to improve the overall performance every week. The expected criticism is welcomed to be better performers. The few stars that feel insulted, or take to blaming the judges are examples of those that didn't improve. If our businesses were comfortable with the same process and perspectives for giving and applying feedback on a regular basis, wouldn't our business results look different!
Intellectually, we all understand the power of feedback, but in my experience with companies, the formal process of providing feedback is one masked in secrecy (on-line 360 "checklists" intended to protect anonymity at all costs to insure honesty). How does a process like that help to build a feedback rich environment where leaders can openly and honestly help each other get better in specific areas in need of performance improvement?
I am encouraged with a company I am assisting, in their wish to share the results of their reports with their peers, the top leader, and the participants who provided feedback through the interviews. They are committing to supporting each other as they begin to make some behavioral shifts, and are willing to 'call each other out' in situations where they slip back. All this within a year of major change for them, including sizable staff reductions within a difficult operating environment.
So what does this mean to those of you who are interested in creating a "feedback rich" operating environment? How can you begin to build a culture that acknowledges and accepts feedback, recognizing that everyone can get better at something?
QUESTIONS TO EXPLORE
- If you conduct 360 feedback processes, are they customized to the fewest behaviors that are most important to your organization's success?
- If someone in your organization offered to give you unsolicited feedback, how would you respond?
- Do you ask others for feedback on how you're doing?
ACTION TO TRY
One approach to initiating a powerful feedback process doesn't even have to go with a 360 event. Executive coach Marshall Goldsmith has created a very simple, easy to carry out, process called FeedForward. The concept is just what the title indicates - a focus on getting better for the future.
The idea is to pick a behavior, that if improved, would create a positive difference in your life. You ask several co-workers or peers for some suggestions on how to improve that behavior for the future. Listen attentively to the suggestions and take notes, without any judgment or comments. Simply thank the participants for their suggestions.
By following up on the suggestions you receive, you show your commitment to grow and your co-workers and peers develop an increased wish to support you and further share their ideas and thoughts. Try it...it works!
Terri Hughes is the owner/principal of Terri Hughes, LLC, a leadership development & executive coaching business. She has been in the business of guiding change and developing leaders for over 25 years, primarily in the corporate space as vice president & director of leadership development and organizational change in a large retail corporation. She is a successful personal and leadership coach, and is a master facilitator.
Terri's recent clients include leaders and teams in manufacturing, technology, retail, health care, government, small business and higher education industries. She works with individuals and teams in a variety of situational change arenas including: leadership behavioral shifts, new role transitions, career changes, organizational and life changes.
Visit her website http://www.terrihughes.com/ for details, free resources and to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your needs.