The Need for Feedback

Some people want feedback on their performance and some people don’t. But if you’re a leader you need to understand this basic fact: ALL people NEED feedback. At least if their performance is going to improve in any significant way.

 

As a leader it is vital that you provide that feedback if you want your people to grow. By the way, if you don’t want you people to grow then stop calling yourself a leader. Just sayin’.

 

This feedback must be fairly consistent and very specific. It can be “scheduled” like during an annual review but it can also be spontaneous, occurring in the moment that you think feedback would be helpful. I should also point out here that if you are providing feedback only during those scheduled annual reviews you’re likely not providing your people with nearly enough feedback to be truly helpful. 

 

Let’s talk about specific feedback. “You need to improve” is NOT feedback, that’s criticism. Feedback involves much more detail. Be as specific as possible about where and how the improvement must occur. Let your people know how you will determine if the improvement has happened. Provide a timeline on when the improvement needs to happen and set a specific date and time to provide updated feedback to confirm that you’ve seen the required change. 

 

Do not ever tell someone they need to improve in a particular area by the end of the month and then leave them wondering if you think their improvement has been sufficient. You need to follow up with additional feedback.

 

I wonder sometimes if the reason so many “leaders” are poor at providing feedback is that they feel giving feedback could lead to confrontation. If you’re a leader who feels that way it could be because you see feedback as something you only provide when improvement or corrective action is required. However, the best leaders provide feedback in all circumstances, bad and good! 

 

It seems most every leader understands the some sort of feedback is required when improvement is needed. What many forget is the it’s also great to provide feedback when things are going well. When you give feedback for a job well done you reinforce the successful actions of your entire team, even if the feedback was provided to a single individual. Feedback for successful actions also needs to be specific, “nice job” barely qualifies as a compliment much less feedback. Tell the person WHY it was a nice job, share with them specifically where they went right and encourage them to continue the effort.

 

A couple of key points here; obviously feedback given to promote corrective action or improvement is best given in private, between you and the person you’re trying to help. Feedback for positive reinforcement can and probably should be given publicly to display a model of successful effort. 

 

Now, back to where we started, some people want your feedback and some people will “resist” your feedback so don’t attempt to force your people to drink from the well of feedback rather inspire them to have a mighty thirst for it. 

 

You inspire them to thirst for feedback by showing them you truly care. By showing them that you have THEIR best interests in mind. 

 

When your people know the feedback is intended FOR them and not directed AT them they will likely become much more receptive. 


One last thing for those of you on the receiving side of feedback. I’ve never in my life received negative feedback. The feedback I received may well have been intended to be negative, I simply refused to receive it that way. That’s a choice and it’s one I would encourage you to make as well.

Small Changes, Big Difference

You cannot improve one thing by 1000% but you can improve 1000 little things by 1%.” — Jan Carlzon

Jan Carlzon was the CEO of the SAS Group (Scandinavian Airlines) from 1981 – 1994 and turned around the airline from one of the industry’s worst performers to one of its best. In doing so he revolutionized the airline industry through an unrelenting focus on customer service quality.

The turn around was engineered through Carlzon’s development of The Rule of 1 Percent. Basically that “rule” says that even a series of very small changes can add up to a very, very big difference.

He studied his business and made the changes seem easy to make, he didn’t ask anyone to make a major change, he just asked a whole lot of people to make small, much easier changes.

What are the small changes you could implement in your organization? You may have looked at those changes in the past and thought that they didn’t amount to enough to bother with. Think again and consider the impact of all of your co-workers making similar small changes. 

Here’s the real beauty of The Rule of 1 Percent – The higher you’re already performing the more impact a 1 percent improvement will have. If you’re functioning at 50% then an improvement to 51%, while good might not be that significant. Now if you’re functioning at 90% then your 1% improvement gets you to to 91% and that’s huge! 

Never believe for a moment that your contribution towards improvement, no matter how small you think it might be, doesn’t matter. It matters because you matter. Most companies run leaner today than ever before, there are few if any people left in organizations who don’t need to be constantly seeking improvement.

The Rule of 1 Percent is applicable not only to business, it actually can apply to any area of your life where you want to improve. Too many people fail in their attempts to improve because they try to go from zero to one hundred without ever passing 50, or 10, or even 1.

I’ve never met anyone who couldn’t make a 1 percent improvement in many areas of their lives, they just have to realize how much of a difference 1 percent can make, especially when the 1 percent comes in many areas.

Don’t overburden yourself trying to change your world all at once. Just improve yourself a little bit and you’ll have improved your world as well.