If feedback occurs in the forest but nobody receives it, did it really happen?

Feedback.  It’s a word that can send shivers down the spine of many people.  In the constant stream of HR-related social media posts, there is no shortage of experts who have developed sure-fire methods of getting feedback right.   Some of the techniques probably work.

When it comes to the topic of feedback, what I am curious about is what isn’t said.  What isn’t spoken about.  And what is spoken about when the bosses aren’t around.

Feedback or communication?

We humans are funny creatures sometimes aren’t we?  We ask for feedback, but also don’t want it.  We are often happy to dish it out, but often don’t appreciate it coming back our way.   It’s often a love-hate relationship.  Even substituting the word ‘communication’ can make it much less daunting, despite it being essentially the same thing.

And herein lies the point of this article.  Every person is different and likes to communicate in different ways.   Some like a direct approach whereas others will freeze at the prospect of communicating like this.  There are people who are comfortable speaking in groups, and others who aren’t.  Sometimes, it is just easier to say nothing, and this is a potential risk.listening-dog

The benefit of multiple communication channels

If the goal of any type of communication within a Company is to improve the overall position of the company, inclusivity is important.  It is not so much about what is discussed as what isn’t discussed that is important.

For example, face to face conversations are wonderful but aren’t necessarily easy for some people to articulate what they mean (and so don’t bother trying).  Online surveys are a great way for some people to offer their feedback, but on their own provide drastically incomplete data.  Team communication situations sometimes don’t encourage personal issues to come to the fore.

A few questions to ask yourself are:

  • What feedback or communication aren’t we currently getting?
  • Who are we accidentally excluding?
  • How many decisions are we making without knowing the answers to the above?

Were you surprised with your own answers?

At Optimum, we believe there is no single way to best communicate throughout an organisation.  Rather, the most effective way to capture feedback that matters is to adopt a number of approaches right through the year.  For example, a combination of pulse surveys, regular one-to-one ‘check-ins’ with Managers and team-meetings can work well, and allows for people to communicate in the way they are most comfortable.  Of course, there are some things that simply don’t always come to the attention of the right people.  The use of an external expertly-trained ‘independent ear’ is a great way to complete the feedback and communication loop.

For more information about developing a multi-channel feedback loop within your organisation, please contact us.

Jason Buchanan – General Manager; Insights & Innovation

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