A Stanford business school professor has written a book challenging the value of performance review and traditional feedback. As I read it, the heart of his premise is two-fold. First, there is no case study evidence that the performance feedback model we have adopted since WW-II has provided a positive outcome. He references personal performance trends, analysis of corporate cultures, and overall corporate performance. Second, he goes on to cite studies on the average person’s reaction to feedback. Do we accept feedback from those we do not trust or think have a motive? Can we accept feedback that makes us feel bad? In both cases, the answer is a generalized no. We do not trust the motives of those giving us the feedback. We find it difficult to learn when we feel worse than we did at the start of the lesson.
As I think about this in the context of giving another feedback, I wonder if I am doing anything with the insight I have.
Starting with myself, what do I do with the feedback I have? Am I stuck in denial, describing the feedback in words like, “Everyone pokes fun at me; they make faces at me, they shake their heads.” (Psalm 22.7) Do I know what do to with what I have?
If I am going to give feedback, is there a starting point that improves the chances of my feedback actually making a difference?
The writer and Life like to remind me of some truths.
Feedback is just what it is, another’s perspective. Good or bad, I am not sure feedback is up or down, left or right. It needs context. It needs trust. It needs intent.
To hear and learn from feedback, the receiver has to be open. If openness and a willingness to hear are not present, there is little point to feedback. It is like throwing seeds on hard ground. There is no chance of making a difference.
Feedback improves when it is offered from a perspective of hope, compassion, and trust.
The right starting point helps.