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The Importance of Feedback


I found a really interesting article by Deborah Grayson Riegel on HBR today.  She makes the point, “Reduced feedback, diminished external encouragement, and decreased interpersonal interaction don’t just take an emotional toll; they can take a toll on our work outcomes as well”. Whether it be human or process the feedback loop is critical. I have spent considerable time looking at process risk in the chemical industry, and without appropriate feedback elements can become catastrophic or spiral out of control. Furthermore subtle changes can have an impact without us really knowing about it, as they are additive and compounded. I see this very much in the construct of the human psyche as well as a chemical process. This is something that can be unnoticed. One of the things we have been taught as professional coaches and consultants is to illicit feedback. This is considerably easier if you are in the room with someone, because if you have been having a personal dialogue, you probably have some sort of emotional contract with them.

Trying to get this on a virtual platform will be more difficult because there is a good chance that the majority of time you could be on a team call, and it may look odd if you ask for feedback. This is where you will need to think about how you plan for the feedback. It is probably not a good idea to have it at the end of another meeting, and you may feel reticent about planning a specific meeting. The other key element to feedback is that it should be natural, authentic and spontaneous. This may be another challenge in the virtual space. I think the most important thing is having a trusting relationship, with your boss, peers and associates. This again could be another challenge given the multiple and non work related stresses that the current crisis is triggering additionally.

If I bring in another coaching analogy, we  talk about “co-creating” the space with clients  as part of a coaching relationship. An element of that is also ensuring this space has an element of psychological safety. This is the sort of discussions you should be having with your peers and teams. Get it out there early on, as keeping our personal feedback loops active at this time will be critical.

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