Don’t Spare the Feedback

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March 2011

Don’t Spare the Feedback
When was the last time you received feedback from those whose job it is to work with you for a living? When it comes to your performance behavior, what kind of impact do you actually have on others? It is interesting to note that most good people really do want feedback. Some will make informal, special pacts with one or two others in the organization that goes something like this; “Hey, if you see me doing something wrong or off-the-wall, would you please let me know? And please… sooner rather than later!”

People need feedback in order to increase their growth and maintain their effectiveness. We all have a flat side, a blind spot or two and feedback helps us see the truth. Imagine bowling with a curtain in front of your lane providing only enough clearance from the floor for your bowling ball. You begin bowling a few frames unable to see the pins or the path your bowling ball takes. You just have to listen for the falling pins and hope you’re doing reasonably well. It’s very difficult for you to course-correct due to a deficit of information and context. Working in feedback-poor environments is much the same. Unless you somehow learn otherwise you keep going, assuming that your behavior/performance is working out for those around you. But is it?

Multi rater feedback , often called 360° Feedback (180° Feedback for individual contributors or knowledge specialists) continues to maintain its undeniable popularity and its widespread use as a key leadership development tool among organizations of all sizes. Feedback coming solely from a single source (the boss) is not nearly effective as perspective coming from multiple observers. Multi rater feedback, whether in electronic format or interview format provides the leader with clear, specific and actionable content for increasing success.

An excellent multi-rater feedback program will possess the following characteristics:

Goals and rationale for feedback initiative clear and aligned with strategy
Feedback initiative actively sponsored if not driven from the top
Feedback results NOT tied to compensation or promotions – for development only
Education and communication emphasized prior to roll-out
Feedback focuses on observable behavior(s) not qualitative generalizations
All feedback kept anonymous and untraceable
Feedback tool is not “stand alone” – is supported by developmental resources
Rater selection is fair and balanced – not populated by “fan club”
Former GE CEO Jack Welch called feedback, “The Breakfast of Champions”. Have you had yours lately?


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