Friday, March 9, 2012

Feedback: It's an Art

I opened up my email this morning to find two articles that show just how invaluable it is to learn the art of giving feedback. One article was about performance reviews at work and another cautioned against a performane review concept called 360 Degree Feedback (feedback from several points of contact around your professional role, ie: feedback from your manager, your team, your partners in addition to self evaluation.)

In the first article, author Kimberly Roden suggests depersonalizing feedback. So instead of "You didn't do the dishes," she suggests saying, "The dishes weren't done." It's a small shift but it may be just enough of a shift to garner the other person's participation rather than provoke their defenses.

The other article written by Dr. Wendell Williams shows exactly how important it is to have a smart process and skilled execution when delivering feedback. He argues that asking too many questions to a large group of people doesn't give useful feedback. Yes, agreed. I certainly would not ask my dentist for feedback on how I deal with change. The point is to fish for quality not to dilute the issue by quantity. Getting feedback about one issue from a group of invested people can be very valuable.

Sure there's an art to implementing a program such as "360 Feedback," but there's also an art to delivering feedback to anyone at any time or place. But then, it's all neither here nor there if we forget that "Application Trumps Information." How we act on and apply that information is more important than how we get the information in the first place.

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