Information, whether verbal or written, is the lifeblood of an organization. Information is not information until it is communicated, however, hence communications become the functional partner of information. Whether communicating goals, plans, results, ideas, needs or feelings – the quality and quantity comprising the communication process of an organization are critical to the performance and productivity of its people.
The process of initiating Feedback is one such cardinal communication process. Unfortunately, it’s a process that is frequently misunderstood and mishandled to the detriment of individuals and their organization. If you had to guess, why would this be the case?
To answer this question, we have to see what qualified Feedback is expected to do. Using a dental analogy, its raw purpose is to extract three wisdom teeth – Wants, Needs and Expectations. Now you might logically ask: “why should that be such a problem?” Well let’s first recognize that Organizations are living organisms made up of live individuals. In their makeup, both share the same life blood to survive and grow – Information.
Because not everyone is identical or performs in the same way, each individual has Wants, Needs and Expectations that can widely vary. To elevate performance, these diverse views need to be identified and aligned to reflect reality and to generate agreement and collaboration. Feedback is the communication tool to apply in order to accomplish this.
If not openly expressed, these three wisdom teeth stay hidden. Where? In the jaws of our subconscious. Unless extracted by a two way dialogue process, the three remain hidden behind assumptions, hazy unclear perceptions and expectations. These tend to mask real Needs which if not met, tend to develop distrust and effect relationships in a negative manner.
The Feedback tool, like a scalpel has two edges. One edge cuts through the subconscious to the surface by asking what exactly the other person(s) Want, Need and Expect? The other edge is surgically applied to allow each of us to tell or to clearly identify what it it is that we Want, Expect and Need. The two sided process represents a 360 degree Feedback continuum. It’s effectiveness rests on how often you use both edges.
How does 360 degree Feedback help?
- The more you know, facilitates your ability to make prudent decisions.
- Asking for Feedback shows your commitment to open communication.
- Telling or giving Feedback creates a significant channel for expression.
- It increases employee motivation and involvement.
- It values employee opinion.
Blanchard & Johnson, authorities on Feedback propose in their book ‘The One Minute Manager’ that one of the prime interpersonal behaviors which contribute most to building a productive company environment is feedback on results. The awareness of your current reality through Feedback is clearly the number one motivator contributing to personal and organizational change. Not giving and asking for Feedback is like trying to play golf in the dark.