Feedback With Integrity

Published: Monday, January 25, 2016

Take feedback and keep moving forward.  Apply it where it makes sense

Over the past few days, my inbox has started to fill with requests for feedback from my peers. Interestingly, I don’t know if they personally requested it or if it was requested by their manager. Either way, I am encouraged that I may be able to participate in such a valuable exercise.

However, before I share how I provide feedback, let’s understand the realities of feedback systems.

Anonymity skews the results

There are many studies that show when people don’t have to identify who they are, the quality of feedback diminishes. If the results are scale based with comments, you will tend to see most answers to the far right, far left, and few in the middle. It is important to take anonymous criticism with a grain of salt and be skeptical of steeped praise as genuine.

When was the last time you filled out a survey that was anonymous? Would you have changed your answers to the survey if you were identifiable? For most people the answer is yes. This is part of the reason the text box asking for more information doesn’t get filled in. People fear that even the words might identify them in some way.

Garbage in, garbage out

I look each and every time at the feedback and rating for every game my son wants to download. If all I see is 5 star ratings with no comments or 1 star ratings with “this app is garbage” I am highly unlikely to buy the game. However, whenever I see thoughtful responses that detail the good, bad, and ugly, my decision is weighted based upon that information.

Negative results are always easier to come by

Let’s face it, people are more willing to be negativity around things they believe are dissatisfied with. When something kind of works or we are happy with the product, service or relationship, feedback isn’t normally provided. But don’t let something affect us. Then feedback can flow continuously and not in a good way.

Providing feedback on people

Over the past several years, I have intentionally taken an approach to providing feedback that is different than most. I would like to share this with you.

  1. Make the person you are providing feedback for aware. Face to face works best of course.
  2. Ask for their permission to give feedback. Sometimes, people may not want feedback from you, and that is ok. By respecting the person up front, you are setting the stage for honest, integrity based feedback to be provided.
  3. Block off time to provide the feedback. If you are giving this face to face, find a pleasant environment.  Don’t give feedback off the cuff, it will be noticed. Let them know you blocked off time in order to value them.
  4. Praise where due. Identify the qualities that are praiseworthy. We can always say something good about someone, however, we can also go over the top. Affirmation of good work and progress can build up self-esteem.
  5. Address issues. Don’t make all your feedback about the issues, but if there are some, get them out on the table with clarity. Provide potential next actions for improvement. Ideally if you can be part of the improvement process, invest.
  6. Share your feedback with them. This is very important when feedback is written and part of a system.  I make sure that I recap an email to each individual with the same text as I put in the feedback tools.  I have gotten a lot of positive responses. More importantly, sometimes this feedback will never reach them and it is important to know the source.
Feedback should always have the following qualities, humility, grace, and love.

I am always looking for feedback and cherish it greatly. Therefore, I feel it is my obligation to be thoughtful to provide feedback that has integrity, gives value, and results in a choice for individuals to accept it.