In today’s world most everyone has engaged in 360 feedback processes, bi-directional feedback, and opinion surveys of one sort or another in order to gauge leadership strengths, 360-degree job performance, what’s working/what’s not working, and overall customer satisfaction. Companies put employees through this rigor typically on an annual basis, with the end-goal being to learn and then improve the individual and/or collective team performance.
The response companies get back from the evaluated team members varies radically. Some are downright opposed to the process and even angry that they have to participate – scratching it up as a waste of time, and others embrace it as a way to improve and more quickly climb the professional ladder.
When managed properly, feedback is a gift and can be an indispensable tool in helping employees become fully aligned – as individuals, professionals, teams, and overall organizations.
HR professionals and company leaders should keep the following guidelines in mind when designing and implementing feedback programs:
There is value in knowing what others think about us, and there is equal value in staying open to that feedback.
Sometimes the truth hurts. Often times our first reaction is complete and utter disbelief – followed quickly thereafter with rejection that the source of the feedback simply ‘doesn’t get it.’ Some never get past this denial stage – and choose to stay as they are, discounting any and all suggestions for change because ‘they are who they are and others are just going to have to get over it.’ However, ignoring feedback hurts no one more than ourselves. Feedback, when received openly without filters, can be a powerful compass for change. And can be an opportunity for further personal growth when taken to heart.
Systemic integration of feedback processes, versus annual report cards, is imperative.
One mistake individuals and companies make is making feedback processes and/or surveys monumental, once-a-year events. The power and associated benefits of feedback occurs when it is integrated into a day-in, day-out expectation. Thoughtful, planned opportunities for the entire team to share with each and every member what they would like to see ‘more of’ and ‘less of’ from each other is far more powerful than an annual assessment. Systemic and expected, routine feedback becomes a regular part of the environment. Team dynamics become more collaborative, and open communication will foster honesty on a frequent and unsolicited basis.
The value lies in taking and integrating what you learn.
Ultimately, the trick is for employees to take the feedback and integrate it into their daily routines – expediently, consciously, and thoughtfully. If people don’t listen, hear, and apply what they heard, feedback surveys will be a waste of time, which does more harm than good on multiple fronts. When people do respond with action – publicly and overtly – they gain credibility, personally and collectively. And that improvement validates the organization’s feedback processes and practices with each performance improvement.
It is a well regarded fact that the most ‘self aware’ individuals become the highest performers and contributors in the workplace and in life. Being aware is absolutely the key to growth, whether this awareness is within the individual, within the team, within the company or beyond.
HR leaders who can get team members to see and respond to personal and performance feedback will be well on the way to total organizational alignment — within individuals and between teams, organizations, and extended alliances. This alignment will always result in higher performance.
So, yes, feedback really is a gift.
Photo credit iStockphoto
About the author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken?, centers on her global experiences seeding her journey toward alignment. The book is scheduled for release in November 2011. Kristin is on Twitter as @KristinKaufman.