Feedback – the Continuous Improvement of People

“How to work with Feedback?” I’ve followed a few people, friends and former work colleagues who have difficulty working with this issue and, in some situations, to the point of compromising good relations with others or distancing themselves and jeopardizing relationships at work.

Recently, I’ve studied a little more about the pillars guiding productive relationships, and so far, I’ve come to the following conclusions:

We must take care to keep good relations, create a feeling of unity and continuous improvement, and not let things slip back to what they were before. And here we need to beware of several factors:

  • We’re living in multicultural environments. Companies are formed by people of varied experiences, groups, social classes, from different parts of the country and the world.
  • It’s quite common to find organizations which seek to create standards of processes and ways of working for their entire value chain, trying to fit all the plurality into one single flow.
  • The focus on processes more than people’s necessities and pain ends up inhibiting collaboration between different parts, diminishing pro-activeness, autonomy, and entrepreneurship.
  • The corporate field often shrinks people’s capacity to criticize constructively and receive constructive criticism as a display of preoccupation and care.

So in order to promote #TrueAgile transformation and break a mechanized line of thought, we must create the culture of Feedback!

Feedback must be in the DNA of an organization in all spheres, directions, and levels of hierarchy, with the purpose of seeking out each person’s understanding and necessities. We use feedback as a principle for building relationships, whether in the field of work or in our personal life.

Some people require greater dedication than others, demanding greater availability and attention. Our tendency is to distance ourselves from them, with the false idea that the more feedback we give, the more they’ll need us. In fact, by distancing ourselves, we’re not improving the situation. A lot of the content described in this text can be found in greater detail in the book Tell Me How I’m Doing, by Richard L. Williams. The book talks about the importance of giving and receiving feedback, with several techniques and practical everyday examples.

During this search, I’ve collected a few items I consider we really need in our day-today; after all, in practice, a lot of feedback has quite an empirical structure and can often compromise a productive relationship.

Productive relationships have four essential pillars:

Communication -> Comprehension -> Respect -> Trust

When we give someone feedback in a relationship, the first pillar which is compromised is trust. In order for there to be trust between parties, it is absolutely necessary there be comprehension and understanding, always seeking to exercise empathy and continuous interaction. Knowing someone involves some time and avoiding precipitated judgments; after all, we want to build productive relationships which permeate our whole life and all spheres.

However divergent two parties may be, respect is primordial, it’s the foundation for comprehension and trust.

To exercise:

Comprehension: Have I understood what this person needs to hear? What do they need and how can I help? Having communicated something, did I test their understanding to know how they received what I said?

Respect: Do I respect how this person feels about a certain matter, even if I don’t feel the same way? Do I respect this person’s life trajectory and how they got here? Do I understand the person before judging them?

Trust: Do I trust in a way which is inherent to this person having good intentions? Do I place myself in a position of vulnerability so that they’re comfortable doing the same?

However, these three pillars will be worthless if the communication isn’t clear and objective. “But how do I know my communication is good?”.

A few tips:

  • The best way to find out is to ask for feedback and test the understanding. Questions like “does this make sense to you? I’d like to know how you see these points I’m making. What’s your opinion of this topic?” help a lot.
  • Good communication is the fruit of training! Practice your own communication a lot, analyze yourself, continuously check what you could improve. So to build up good feedback with someone you should analyze and pass through these four stages.

We must constantly practice and review what works and what doesn’t, using the above premises. There will invariably be conflict, but this gives us the strength to resolve large problems. We should avoid confrontation, but not conflict, since that’s our greatest learning tool, is part of building relationships and our own selves.

Agreement or condescension almost always create barren ground. It’s through conflict that ideas germinate and produce good fruit!

To be continued…

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Daniel Canez
Daniel Canez

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