Are You Open to Feedback? Some of You Flinched.

FeedbackGoogle will offer up 450,000,000 pages of information on “360 Reviews.” That’s a lot of feedback on feedback! Employees have been subjected to a review process for decades. When the more-comprehensive, 360-degree review methodology came into use, everyone in the organization got feedback from those up and down and all around them. Can we conclude that feedback is beneficial?

To Review or Not Review

Recently, many of our best companies have declared they have now abandoned the review process. What? Part of me wanted to celebrate while the other part was skeptical about the decision to kick the reviews to the curb. After all, for decades I advised clients on business improvement activities their firms could take based on feedback. I was the objective, outside party who interviewed customers and employees about their experience with my clients. The data collected was profoundly helpful and was used to fuel the growth of the firms. It was beneficial.

It was also voluntary. The customers and employees I interviewed agreed to provide their opinions when it was convenient for them. They had a choice and could opt in or out.

In a corporate review system, employees do not opt. They receive feedback even if it’s inconvenient. Review time in many companies raises the stress and anxiety levels for many working souls. Don’t get me wrong; review systems are, in general, quite useful and necessary when they are executed correctly. I have no opinions about whether or not to abolish the review process. I do wonder how people will be getting personal feedback about their performance and aspirations.

Frankly, I was never comfortable receiving feedback on my performance as an employee or business owner. I always flinched and now I understand why.

Why Feedback Can Hurt

Unsolicited feedback can feel like a body blow or an ambush, depending on the nature of the feedback. I’ve seen high level executives become defensive, get angry or pull back when unsolicited feedback comes their way. On the other hand, I know many employees who proactively asked for a review from their supervisor even though their intentions were usually to qualify for a higher salary level. Most employees, like I was, would rather have a root canal than subject themselves to a review by one or more of their managers. They are subjected to unsolicited feedback and it’s my contention that more mental and emotional strength is required by receive feedback that has not been requested.

In a coach-to-client relationship, the coach is expected to skillfully provide feedback and guidance. The client opts in although they may not be comfortable with what they hear. As a businesswoman who wanted to succeed, I purposefully set out to build mental strength and a strong vision for the road ahead. Then I started asking for feedback. I opted in. I voluntarily opened myself up for insights that I knew would be helpful. The feedback that is willingly solicited is the crème de la crème and is the most helpful. I savor and devour every tidbit that someone is willing to gift me when I am open and asking for opinions.

Other business owners and executives ask for feedback when they need to make a decision or to make an assessment about an issue whose resolution is not yet clear. It’s healthy and helpful at the same time.

MasterMind groups are schoolyards of feedback activity. My MasterMind group has been one of the more powerful sources of useful feedback for me as long as I stay open and keep asking. I founded HUDDLE Sessions for the sheer purpose of providing a low-commitment forum so that people could ask for and receive feedback in a controlled environment, which has proven to bring sometimes life-changing results. It makes a world of difference when people ask others for opinions about an idea, problem or other challenge.

When was the last time you proactively asked for feedback on any small issue or on a significant challenge you are facing? If you’d like feedback from me, I have an abundance of opinions I’d love to share, but only if you ask first.

Darcie Davis is president of Huddle Enterprises, which includes HuddleSessions.com and GamesandTeamBuilding.com. She creates innovative ways to get people connected to find cross-inspiration or to resolve problems and is the author of 1 Question Power Surveys: magnets for new business.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net