Giving and Receiving Appropriate Feedback

I can’t believe I had gone so many days without writing. Yesterday I tried out a new iPad app for WordPress. It published before I added categories and tags. Today, I’ll play around with it a little, but I’m far behind in my other two blogs–not to mention a feature article about using Ethernet networking in manufacturing and a column on automation standards.

These days much of my leadership seems to be behind the scenes guiding others into thinking through things so that they arrive at sound decisions and move their projects forward. In the midst of that, I forgot that others are constantly evaluating me.

Someone in a position of some authority offered some feedback that just seemed a little lame to me. So, I pondered the feedback and what sort of feedback is useful. Part of the feedback was that “I hear great things about you, encourage more people to tell me how good you’re doing.” Was that useful feedback? What sort of sample size was that? Was it just one or two off-hand comments?

Then it sounded like how we are trained to offer feedback to soccer referees after a match where we are assigned officially as an assessor–point out one or two strengths and one or two areas for improvement with guidance containing a strategy for improving that area.

The soccer feedback assumes that I as the assessor know what constitutes good officiating and that I have already proven myself so as to lend credibility to my feedback. In other words, if the feedback is given from a person whom I respect and given to help me improve my performance, that’s one thing; but if the feedback is superficial pointing out only superficial things that do not really guide me into a way to improve, then it just feels lame.

I spent the better part of ten years setting and developing the direction of a magazine and constantly asked people wherever I went for ideas on improvement. Starting from September, I’m doing that all over again. In this case, I didn’t start the magazine but rather have assumed leadership of one that is older but has been failing for several years. So, I want ideas on what I could do to improve the property. My ideas will be shown next month to the public. Then I start the feedback process again.

A few thoughts:
Solicit feedback from people affected or people with expertise
Offer feedback that is truly helpful
Consider the feedback, but neither be unduly uplifted by superficial praise nor discouraged with unthinking criticism
Take all feedback as a source of potential personal improvement

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