Five minutes on … Do you have five minutes to give us your feedback?

The prologue…

Last week I had four opportunities to give feedback and one encounter where feedback was not asked for nor required.

The first feedback request was part of the automated system to get a new tax disc for my car. It works just fine. You get the renewal letter; go on-line; type in the access code; tick a few boxes, all done. You are advised it will take 3-5 days for the new disc to arrive. It does. But you are forced to give feedback as part of the system close out. Almost took longer than the renewal process. Why?

The second was after a short call with my bank. The staff perfectly civil, dealt with the matter in hand, asked if they could help me with anything else. No thank you. Just before you go, would you be willing to be put through to our automated feedback system.
Thanks, but no thanks.

I was at my optometrists. I had the eye test. I did need new glasses. As a onetime fellow traveller in another large organisation I know that collecting feedback is like getting gold stars at school and often vital to an individual’s performance targets. So even if the professional is asking through gritted teeth we all become part of the system.
I filled in the form.

And, finally the Friday night meal. A very nice South Indian Restaurant (Shivalli in Leicester). Even they feel the need to give us a comp slip with a five scale evaluation card from Excellent to Terrible on hospitality, service, cuisine and ambiance.

So have we lost the nerve to say the food was good or bad to the waiter?

Can we no longer ask for the music, air conditioning even the lighting to be turned up or down?

Can the owner no longer look at half eaten food to get the message that it wasn’t good; or in this case know that asking for more is a good sign of appreciative diners?
Do we always need to ask?

In engineer and mechanical systems feedback was and is self-correcting and built into the machine. Just push the button on an engine (circa 1800) at the nearest Science museum and a small rotating governor automatically adjusts steam pressures, yet we can’t devise a simple computer interaction without having to ask.

Can’t the tax disc system only ask those that struggled? Can’t it look at the behaviour of the user and maybe only contact those who made mistakes?
DVLA have so much data – just lazy or the need to meet a kpi for a report somewhere?

The last encounter.
The only person who didn’t ask was a fantastic support agent working for BA. We had some problems over the price of a flight and then he called to say the plane had been changed.

First he called me and said he would call again and drop me an email. Both he did.

He explained the problem and I told him the story. He sorted out the fare and re-arranged the seats on the replacement plane. Just to be clear, we are back of the bus travellers.

He didn’t need or want feedback he was just great. I wrote a note of thanks to him.
I’m sure it will go on his file.

So, do you have a clear view on the rationale for gathering feedback and the benefits the data will bring to individual or organisational actions?

Does it really tell you what is going on?

And then do we know how to give feedback in our roles as manager, coach, mentor, facilitator or teacher?  

The pitfalls of a poor feedback process as you may know it …

  • In education and training every class requires the happy sheet. The general consensus is that only one question is worth asking – how was it for you?

What to put in its place?
A more nuanced approach? Feedback has to be immersed in and part of organisational reality.

Some ideas

It’s not the models (feel free to ask us about them or just look them up)

  • Stop, Start, do more of; or
  • Good, Tricky, Different
  • The R.I.G.H.T. way
  • The BOOST model
  • Medals, Missions, Clear Goals
  • EEC

Whichever model you hold in your head, context is all, the ‘S’ in BOOST is specific, now that’s a challenge. The ‘H’ can be helpful and honest.

 Feedback shouldn’t be a knee jerk requirement

Feedback can be a vital tool for an organization or individual from which the business can be informed, revise plans or develop new strategies.. What is sometimes overlooked is that it shouldn’t replace good management and decision-making.

Some thoughts:

  • Join our campaign to no longer give feedback.
  • Ban happy sheets; tear up customer feedback cards and don’t have just five minutes to rate our conversation.
  • Release the employee from this tyranny and make the company think about their services. So much feedback is lazy and perfunctory.

Contact all about talent  if you find managing feedback tricky, want to do it differently and maybe want to be good at giving it!

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