Feedback is a funny old thing isn’t it? So funny I rolled around on the floor laughing many times when I worked at the BBC, having been given ‘feedback’.
Actually I didn’t, although sometimes I cried, but not from laughing, and mostly I despaired of the situation, because the feedback had been so cack-handed. But I always felt less confident afterwards.
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Here are three of my favourites, which I can laugh at now
In an appraisal:
“Penny, you need to intellectualise more” (answers on a post card if you know what this even means).
When I asked a senior manager, now head of everything, how I could move from broadcast assistant to researcher:
“It’s quite hard to become a researcher, so er…anyway, it’s really quite difficult” (no tips for helping me with that were given).
When I sought guidance to improve my performance on TV:
“Well, I dunno if you’re a bimbo who just reads the autocue, or if you actually know what you’re doing” (gee thanks, and amazing recall and use of the 80s word, bimbo).
And even though that’s well behind me, I still remember every word and how it made me feel at the time. It wasn’t useful and did nothing to boost my confidence which would have then contributed to my overall contribution at work I’m sure.
When I coach people now, to help them get more visibility for what they do, I make sure they go away feeling supported, galvanised and ready to face the world – why would anyone do it any other way? It’s not a case of gushing about their greatness, but more about being realistic yet believing in them and what they can achieve.
But bosses the world over can be dreadful at encouraging their teams. You’ve probably got your own carefully archived feedback examples of ‘how not to do it’ after being handed the gift of feedback.
So I wonder, why does feedback fail so often? Is it the feedbacker who’s at fault, for not being more sensitive or thoughtful. Or should feedbackees be tougher and less easily offended?
Either way feedback can always be improved upon, and confidence built as a result, and that’s my feedback.