Fear of feedback

Do you welcome feedback or does it fill you with dread? Do you live for the constant updates on Twitter and other social media sites or do you wait for more traditional views over time? ….Or do you just ignore everything?

In this fast paced, open society that we live in there is a constant barrage of noise and dissatisfaction spreads much quicker than the positive good word. Should we be afraid of this or should we welcome people’s opinions with open arms? All leading consumer companies have customer service and PR teams monitoring and responding to feedback to ensure the optimum customer service experience. Almost every printed receipt you get – whether it’s in a store after you’ve bought a new bag, tech gadget, sports gear or other goods, or in a restaurant after a meal – has a message saying ‘we value your feedback, please visit our site and tell us how your experience rated’. It goes without saying that when you buy online you get an automatic email or alert to rate your experience and the 5 little gold stars are a given for any film rating, book review or price comparison. We value customer service very highly and Oracle recently produced an index about customers stopping buying goods through poor service entitled Why Customer ‘Satisfaction’ is No Longer Good Enough. Interestingly 81% are willing to pay more for a better customer experience and 56% have never posted negative comments through an online channel.

So why are we so afraid or perplexed about feedback in other walks of life?

Parents evening can instill nervous pangs about ‘what will the teachers say?’, although a head teacher once told me that ‘there should never be any surprises at a school parents evening’. The same is true of any feedback or research – it validates what is going well and identifies what needs improvement. And when your boss says it’s time for your annual appraisal does anyone whoop and jump for joy or is the reality more a feeling of quiet confidence mixed like a weak cocktail with inherent doubt or dread? Shouldn’t it be a time to celebrate the good work?

In the HR world feedback is a given and it touches many aspects of the working life. Whether its personnel reviews, interviews or assessment centres, job offers, 360 degree internal reviews, pay reviews, external benchmarking, management development or training programmes, there are so many opportunities to give and receive feedback.  Sometimes this isn’t easy and trainers or coaches will help with proven methods for delivering difficult feedback. Similarly, when you’re recruiting think about the negative feedback as some believe this can improve your employer brand and social recruiting. Conversely think just how much of the feedback is good or very good. If staff weren’t performing well they wouldn’t be in jobs and being promoted. Think how many business leaders started with an entry level position then worked their way to the top. No career progression comes without a few challenges along the way and people learn from mistakes, setbacks and the occasional piece of negative feedback. Yet think how much has been good or positive along the way – and often how much is actually quite brilliant. Whilst people may be modest about the good news it is always there to fuel success. And if you don’t monitor or measure it, how can you improve?

So what are the lessons we should be taking from this? Be positive about good feedback, say thank you for excellent service, be proud to rate something 5 star….and don’t be frightened of asking for feedback as I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the responses.

What do you think?

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