The Strategist

Asking for feedback effectively


12/26/2017 - 13:58



People want to see results of their work. Most of them tend to constantly improve their skills, and getting feedback is a great way to achieve this goal. Let's figure out what results will bring this approach and how to ask for feedback.



Motivating effect of feedback 

The New York Times published an amazing article on the influence of feedback on physical performance. The described experiment was held by Kevin Thompson, who heads the faculty of sports and physical education at Northumberland University in England.

The idea was to put two cyclists on the exercise bikes and ask them to cover a distance of four kilometers, pedaling as quickly as possible. The athletes carried out this task several times, so that it was possible to determine the benchmark of their peak load. And then the deception began. Here's what the New York Times wrote about it on September 19, 2011:

Each bicyclist was shown two avatars. One symbolized the biker himself and moved along the virtual track with the actual speed with which he was pedaling at the moment. Another avatar was a figure that moved with the highest speed demonstrated by this cyclist. In any case, the participants were told about the experiment.

In fact, the second avatar was programmed to move 1 percent faster than the cyclist ever drove. Because cyclists were challenged to compete with their best result, they compared their speed with the speed of avatars, moving much faster than ever before.

Perhaps you will find that an increase in effort of 2 percent is unimportant. But in a large bicycle sport, a speed increase of 1 percent may determine whether you will be able to head the entire group or will put you in the tail. According to Thompson, the increase in physical performance that occurred during this experiment is "a real improvement in efficiency."

Request for feedback

The request for feedback and its receipt is a key skill for any leader. Data from thousands of respondents indicate that the request for feedback is one of the rarest behaviors displayed by managers. Fortunately, these managers agreed with the feedback and accepted it.

Managers, as a rule, are not inclined to ask anyone for feedback: neither they turn to their leaders, nor to colleagues, nor to subordinates.

This is an alarming situation. After all, the request for feedback would allow leaders to become a role model and a good example for their subordinates. Their behavior should stimulate subordinates to receive feedback from them. In addition, managers should set an example of how you can react to honest feedback without taking a defensive position.

Using feedback right

People can benefit from feedback only if they trust and accept it. A classic example: the wife of an alcoholic tells her husband: "You have problems with drinking." The alcoholic replies: "No, in fact, everything is not so bad. I have no problems with this. " Then, the employer pays attention to the problems of a subordinate with a drink. The alcoholic again answers: "This is not a problem". As a result, the wife of this person divorces him, and the employer fires him. He finds himself on the street. One morning, waking up in a cardboard box somewhere in the doorway, he finally says: "I think I have a problem." It is at this moment that changes can begin. But it comes only when a person takes feedback and realizes the need for change.

Thus, the key competence of any successful leader is the ability to continuously collect, receive and respond to feedback. By itself, data collection is useful, but is not enough. If a person simply receives feedback, this does not necessarily mean that he will accept it and make adjustments to his behavior.

based on “How to Be Exceptional. Drive Leadership Success By Magnifying Your Strengths” by John Zenger, Joseph Folkman, Robert H. Sherwin Jr., Barbara Steel




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