Sunday, May 10, 2009

The POWER of FEEDBACK @35 Principles (I)

by Joe Folkman, John H. Zenger (Sharing by Ching Ya on 22 April 2009, EXCO meeting)

Click HERE to preview book
Broad areas are outlined in the Content Titles.

1. Reacting to Feedback
2. Why Did I Get that Feedback
3. Improving Your ability to Accept Feedback
4. Why Change?
5. Deciding What to Change
6. Fixing Weaknesses or Building Strengths?
7. Making Change Happen
8. Making Change Stick
9. Working Harder or Working Smarter?

Take a second look at these content titles, it's not difficult to see that it follows the approach - WHY? WHAT? HOW? It's a very systematic approach of getting one to self-aware what's exactly happening, the reasons behind it and its impact, before one is convinced to do the carry out the next step - "what can I do to improve my weakness". After telling one "what to improve on", next will show one "how" to improve, i.e. into the operational part - to make it happen. Otherwise, it's talking/writing in the air. The next time is sustainability (assuming these are good practices). Hey, think about it. Isn't this the way we approach things? In fact, it's the guiding principle of how to get things done! Seems like, most of the self-help book goes for this approach too!
Quick Reflections...

0. Introduction

Feedback is powerful: The book says, "Those who look for and accept it position themselves to be more competent and capable." "Those who resist, reject, or avoid it doom themselves to the limitations of their own personal insights - which may be right or wrong, but they will never know." "Without feedback, we are flying blind."

  • Among these 3 sentences, I can't agree more than the last one, "Without feedback, we are flying blind". Feedback is a response to what we do, how people perceive it, be it from their personal or professional perspectives. It raises our awareness on how things are like from another perspective, which might have an impact on the outcomes.
  • When one provides feedback, certainly, it does not pay to just say a yes or no, good or bad. But what's the reason behind that particular feedback is important. It must be back-up with some prior experience/observations or known consequence/impact, or even anticipation. This would be helpful.
  • As the first sentence say, "Those who look for and accept it position themselves to be more competent or capable." is really a yes and no answer (from my perspective). Yes, Those who look for feedback are certainly clever - because they know by doing so, they are tapping on more brains to cover more ground, and prevent possible pitfalls. On the other hand, it doesn't mean that one has to accept every single feedback that comes in. Then in the first place, something must be very wrong in the initial plans! One has to analyse the feedback for its relevance. Sometimes feedback come from those who has the relevant forms of exposure, experience and expertise; somethings feedback come from those with "biased" exposure. So, it's a 'skill' to filter the relevant kinds of feedback to be taken into account. In other words, the one who asks for feedback has to 'process' the inputs too. His/Her role is not as a coordinator of inputs!
  • Of course, I agree totally with the 2nd sentence. Never shut the doors. Don't gather feedback for the sake of being part of the bigger exercise - I mean, for the motion. It should be genuine. Afterall, uphold true spirit of gathering feedback!

As it elaborated the benefits of getting feedback from the various perspectives, it also pointed out "Although people are receiving more feedback, changes in their behaviour do not seem to be taking place."

  • True, true... I guess, it goes back to how genuine are we when asking for feedback - why do we ask for feedback? How are we to receiving (especially) negative feedback? Are we open to hear the not-so-good side of ourselves or are we trying to hear what others don't agree with (our own perspectives) and start to become defensive? This is pretty obvious through face-to-face interaction. One's tone and body language tell - no matter how one masks his/her body language with any reasons (or excuses!).

Another point is, "People who receive an abundance of helpful feedback early in their careers often find, later in their careers when they become managers, the feedback seems less open, honest and straightforward, and more politically loaded."

  • This is true. When one is new to the job, new to the environment, one would normally receive feedback to help him/her to integrate into the environment. Where do these feedback come from? Well, the "seniors" (aka peers) or the supervisors! However, when one climbs up the career ladder, there are lesser of such people around. Moreover, it's also an expectation that one, at this level, would possess higher degree of self-awareness and maturity and of course, sensitivity when dealing with issues or work! Of course, competition kicks in. Healthy competition is desirable! Nevertheless, who knows what's behind each others' agenda? Sigh...


1. Reacting to Feedback

Principle 1: Asking others for input increases their expectation that you will change in a positive way

  • This is dangerous! This reminds us, what's the purpose of asking feedback? If it's something we are going to act on (for improvement of processes or ourselves), by all means, go ahead. However, the follow-up has to be clear and obvious - what aspects of feedback is accepted and what changes/improvements are going to be made, and the change should be observable (if not soon, would be effected in the next similar activity).

Principle 2: If you receive feedback but do not change for the better, you will be perceived more negatively than if you had not received feedback.

  • Fully agree! Then why waste other people's time and effort to provide feedback? Of course, as said early, one would not expect all feedback to be accepted - because we recognise that there are information gaps that the person who provides feedback not aware of. Nevertheless, it's good to let others know the feedback is not considered or the suggestion is not feasible. I guess, it's basic courtesy to close the loop.

Principle 3: You will not change what you do not believe needs to be changed.

  • Then what's the point of getting feedback if one is so confident and sure that things go the way one believes? Aren't you inviting trouble when it's likely to hear opposing views or suggestions? Worst still, it deepens others' impression that one is just doing lipservice... Oh! one term to describe them - the High & Mighty ones! So, who bother to ask!

Principle 4: Rather than accept criticism, we tend to denounce not only what is said, but those who say it.

  • True... psychologically... we 'switch off' automatically - obvious through body language and tone. As pointed out in the paragraph, "Minimal denial" presents itself as rationalisation. One either rationalises that the feedback is not important to change or one believes that things are not so bad. In "Moderate denial", confrontation comes in to those who provide negative feedback to minimise the importance of the feedback. People in "Advance denial" would act as experts and denies the existance of problems (hm... to the extent of ignoring the problem).


To be continued... in another post when I get hold of the handout :D

Wordle: Feedback

Wordle: sst.common

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