Feedback...why is it different?

Over the last couple of years I have been wondering why is it we recognise feedback as hugely significant in the learning process for kids, but as adults it seems to drop to almost nothing for our learning process?  Feedback is feedback, if learning is lifelong then feedback is hugely important regardless of age. I am well aware there are in education circles formal feedback loops that form part of the appraisal process and occur within a 12 month cycle.  However these don’t come remotely to adhering to what we might call fundamental principles of quality feedback.  The main one being feedback to be effective should be timely and specific.

Feedback processes I’ve either observed or been involved in within education are sometimes specific and sometimes timely, very rarely both.  Both is important, no point outlining something a person need to address in their practice 5 days, 10 days, or even 2 days after you’ve observed it. Equally no point giving immediate feedback to someone that is vague and leaves the person unclear on what they’re actually focussing on.

So what am I doing about it?

I have been working slowly over the last 18 months specifically to model seeking feedback that is focussed when it needs to be, specific when it needs to be, timely when it needs to be.  In a leadership context I have been exploring ways to both seek this feedback and build a culture that will provide feedback that is accurate and honest.

The most recent example of this I have posted below for your benefit.  There are numerous examples online that speak to various models and ways of seeking leadership feedback and in most cases it needs to be a marriage of what area you are seeking feedback on and ensuring the questions asked are focussed.  Over time I’ll post the different models I have used and also a quick comment on how it went.

I gave the leadership team (7 people) the following 6 questions about 24 hours before the meeting;

  1. What are three words that you would use to describe me?
  2. When would you most want me on your team?
  3. When would you least want me on your team?
  4. How do I add value to you or your work?
  5. What do you want me to keep doing?
  6. What do you wish I would stop doing?

Ref: adapted from Stellar Leadership - here

I asked them to select 3 on which to speak to at the meeting.  This was simply for time management reasons.  As this was the first feedback session on my leadership for 2016 the questions are far more general in nature and I was seeking an understanding about how the year had started and how I was generally supporting their work.

As an aside; I write notes during the feedback and I also record the audio directly into my Evernote account.  This is done with the verbal permission of each individual.  I undertake not to use it other than for my on playback.  Should for any reason wish to use it ‘publicly’ I’d go back and seek the permission of the person concerned. 

RIP Fred Dagg aka John Clarke

The insightful Peter Senge speaks...