Over the course of my 35-year career I have both received and given my fair share of feedback. In my early years, you might’ve said I was better at giving it than getting it. But that’s likely to be true for many who are young, brimming with ideas and eager to climb the ladder. They don’t, and I didn’t want to be knocked back down. And feedback given badly can sadly have that effect. For me, experience has brought with it an appreciation of why feedback is important in shaping your business. Across all business relationships. Employer and employee. Client and agency. Customer to business. Not only helping you to identify areas of improvement but guiding you on exactly what you can do to lift your business performance.
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” Bill Gates
ITS ALL IN THE DELIVERY
As with anything – there are ways and means of delivering feedback. It doesn’t have to be a negative experience yet it so often is. Feedback can and should be delivered in a way that it is both useful and inspiring.
We’ve all been on the end of a conversation we would rather not have about something that went wrong. And I hold my hands up to say that I’m not adverse to dishing out a pointed, clear reprimand if the situation demands it. I will never suffer fools gladly, nor will I ever let standards slip. Similarly, I will never be walked over or belittled in business. Yet if somebody has a suggestion of how things can be done differently, especially if it can save time and money, then these days I am very much open to suggestions. And guess what, there have been some brilliant ideas that have been brought to the fore by my stellar team simply by allowing feedback to be given openly and honestly. Ideas that are shaping our events and the business itself.
I did receive some feedback recently that opened my eyes, which I wrote about recently in my book. And for me, provided a reality check that I still feel today,
I met up with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in an eternity, and these are the kind of people who serve you well because they bookend who you were and who you are. They measure the distance of the journey.
‘You’re not angry any more,’ she told me without prompting.
It hadn’t dawned on me that my work image might seem thus. Angry – I hadn’t really considered. Tough and as hard as nails, independent and successful yes and ruthless in delivering but only now can I see that I left some people reeling and asking ‘what’s up with her?’ Gladly those days are behind me. Mostly.
THE TRUTH SHOULDN’T HURT
That’s not to say that the pedantic, control freak in me did struggle to hand over more responsibility to be begin with. I do of course have people within my business that aren’t afraid to tell me when they think I’ve got it wrong – and to me they are invaluable. Sometimes it takes somebody external to a situation to be able to see the obvious. How that is framed is of course paramount as to how much I take on board, and luckily those team members know exactly how to give feedback. Positive. Firm. Resolute. They come not with a problem but an alternative pathway.
As a leader and manager, feedback is essential – there has to be a constant dialogue with employees that not only sets expectations but lets them know they’re doing a great job. It keeps staff engaged with their role and the process. And when done right, feedback can contribute in a huge way – exactly why feedback is important in shaping your business for the future.
“Feedback is a gift. Ideas are the currency of our next success. Let people see you value both feedback and ideas.” – Jim Trinka and Les Wallace
Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way:
There should be no grey areas, or anything left to interpretation. What’s worked. What hasn’t. How can it be improved next time? Short. Sharp. To the point.
MAKE IT TIMELY
There’s no point in saving up feedback for a personal review. If a member of staff has done something well you need to tell them there and then. If it’s something they’ve done wrong, they need to know sooner rather than later so the mistake doesn’t get repeated.
REMOVE THE EMOTION
Where feedback should be timely it’s also difficult to stay calm and constructive if a situation has emotions running high. Also, if it’s in the middle of an event like it often is with me, the show must go on. Let them know in the moment that you will revisit the situation later. Then calmly put your points across later, but don’t leave it too long or the moment will have passed.
FIND SOME PLUS POINTS
Unless you want to terminate the person’s contract it’s important to find some positives to mix in with any negative feedback. We’ve all heard of the idea that you ‘sandwich’ the negative news in between good points. Well, this is the exact situation that it needs to be used in. And of course, deliver the ‘what went wrong’ framed as ‘here is how you can improve’. At the end of the day, feedback should be given to improve everyone’s situation, not make people question their ability.
A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE
And finally, to the kind of feedback that everyone loves. Positive feedback. I always ask guests at an event to leave feedback and I’m happy to say that in most circumstances it is positive. I always take the time to read reviews and positive feedback. Not only does it give you an indication of what you’ve done well. It’s also good for the soul.
In fact, this whole post came about because of the brilliant feedback I received for my podcast. Positivity breeds positivity. And so, if somebody gives you good feedback, please make sure you thank them and you take that feedback on board as much as you would if it were negative. If you enjoyed an experience, product or service be sure to leave feedback, it means more than you know.
And to those of you who haven’t left feedback on my podcast, it is always gratefully received.
Refer to Podcast reviews: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/events-that-made-me-with-liz-taylor/id1513208697#see-all/reviews
Are you still wondering why feedback is important in shaping your business? Try reading this classic book on the art of receiving feedback: READ HERE
Sometimes to improve as a leader, feedback is a vital stepping stone. We can also learn the most from other great leaders in terms of style and approach. I write about it here