Better Feedback Models

Traditionally feedback has been seen as occurring externally between a customer and a provider and internally as flowing from a manager to a direct report. Many changes in the work environment, including self-directed project teams, matrix management, flat organizational structures, and doing more with less resources, lead employees to work more closely with one another and become less dependent on management to provide them with feedback.

The Feedback Cycle graphic below illustrates that, these days, we must recognize that feedback – from project team members, peers, and direct reports – is the primary way to give and provide information and suggestions to each other to improve work output and performance. We must also be certain to listen for emotions and feelings as part of the feedback process. Whether your role is within a multinational corporation or a small start-up, the need to look around you 360 degrees and see yourself and your work product as others see it is critical to charting your own and team success.

Within the field of emotional intelligence, there’s a best practice of trying to see matters from another’s perspective. It is in this ability to “be on the outside looking in,” observing our decisions as a series of choices based on information we have processed, that we gain insight, perspective, and mutually desirable outcomes. Intentionally studying how our actions will affect others, asking for their input, and incorporating a “win-win” scenario into our decisions makes for better management of self, projects, and others.

In the start-up world, the Feedback Model can be used to test and validate “fit” with co-founders, employees, strategic vendors, investors, professional services providers, and so on. If the other party is not incorporating your input into their communication, planning, and execution, they are not a good fit. Likewise, if we are not able to receive feedback from others, we will not be successful in executing our business/departmental/project strategy.

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