Getting an honest and constructive feedback is neither easy nor simple. First, we need to learn: Why do people shy away from providing feedback?
Collecting feedback and insights from those around you is the most important, if not the only way to improve the process you're involved in. Whether this process is running your staff meeting, shipping your company's products, or managing your team of employees, feedback remains one of the key drivers to improve this process.
The benefit of proper feedback collection and utilization extends even beyond process improvement to directly improving profitability. A study published in 2011 in Business Journal, entitled “The Secret of Higher Performance,” discussed the Gallup study that included over 450 business units and found that managers who received feedback on their strengths showed 8.9% greater profitability.
However, people seem to shy away from providing feedback or sharing their insights, the reason maybe the P.A.I.N. that sharing such feedback can cause.
- Feedback may cause Penalties: In some cases our feedback is not taken positively, or it gets misunderstood as an attempt to disrupt the process. This may cause the receiver of feedback to be offensive, which may be painful to us emotionally, or even harmful to our career. In my book “PEAK UP NOW!” I had a full chapter about providing input and feedback in a professional way ‘your input can be your value’. In that chapter I explained how rushing into providing feedback in an incomplete or in a non-professionally manner can cause harm more than benefit.
- Feedback may cause Animosity: People who are taking part in the process can have different input than ours. This different input can be driven by different job responsibilities, a different way of looking at work processes, or a different personal agenda. Regardless of the reason, our feedback may cause animosity and conflict with others because it takes the process out of the track they planned. Hence they start to push away our input and resist our attempts to improve the process, which leads to friction and animosity between colleagues.
- Feedback can be Ignored: One of the main reasons for us not to give feedback is our perception that it will be ignored. Most of us believe that our feedback will not add much value, and that—even if it’s a solid and objective feedback—it will not change the process in any way. So we tend to keep our feedback to ourselves instead of sharing it with others.
Feedback can be of No reward: An even worse outcome that we fear is that our feedback gets noted and used to improve the process, then we get no recognition or appreciation for being the source of this feedback. We all experience this feeling when a participant keeps sharing objective and constructive feedback to get the process improved, only to see the process owner gets awarded for the great process he or she's running.
I was taking a part in a performance improvement initiative in one company, and I was attending one of their monthly performance reviews. The team was sharing their insights and feedback, but I noted one manager who was not interested in sharing or discussing any insight. A the time of individual business reviews I could see that this manager had great business understanding and was running several solid initiatives, but he was not sharing any of them unless he was directly asked to present to the rest of the team.
At the end of the meeting the business director asked the sales effectiveness manager to present what he called “the goal chaser dashboard.” It was a simple program that will show each salesperson his or her monthly target, their current sales achievement, the difference between both, and the days remaining to achieve this monthly sales target. The program included motivational quotes along with practical tips and reminders to help each salesperson to achieve their sales. The concept of ‘visualizing’ the individual sales performance in that way was creative and unique. The business director was so proudly explaining to me how the sales effectiveness manager could develop this program.
During lunch break, I talked to our silent manager. I started by appraising the sales chaser dashboard, trying to tell him that sharing initiatives and suggesting improvements can put employees on the appreciation radar like what happened with the sales effectiveness manager. The man looked at me sadly and said, “That was my idea! The dashboard, its design, even the name were all my ideas. The only thing the sales effectiveness manager did was giving my idea to an app developer to develop the dashboard. Now he’s taking all the credit.”
I didn’t see this coming. The man was so frustrated for not getting any credit for his idea, so he decided to keep all his other ideas and insights for himself. That striking feedback caused me to think: who should get the credit for an idea or an input? The one who initiated the idea, the ones who fine-tuned it, or the one who turned it into a tangible solution?
While improving the business process should be a positive outcome for all those involved in it as now it runs more smoothly and productively, it is still the human nature to seek individual recognition and appreciation for the part they helped in.
"I think it's very important to have a feedback loop, where you're constantly thinking about what you've done and how you could be doing it better." Elon Musk
Want to learn more about collecting feedback? want to use an objective tool to assess your own capabilities and further understand your strengths and weaknesses? Check my new book "EVALYOUATE! Mastering the Art of Self-Assessment."