Success in life often depends on seeking honest feedback and acting on it to make continuous improvements. It is often difficult to get honest feedback, but it is essential if you want to improve your skills, a product, a service, or an organisation.
Sound feedback can also act as a early warning system alerting you to potential problems and grievances.
Honest feedback is the key to improvement so don’t be defensive if it contains criticism, be grateful.
Five of the best tips to make continuous improvements
* Be truthful
You must be trusted. Talk honestly with staff and clients if you want to get honest answers. First establish a rapport before asking simple questions.
* Be suspicious of excess positive feedback
If you get only positive feedback you should realise it may not be the whole truth.
Learn to accept and appreciate constructive criticism.
* Make the most of social events
Network at social events to gather information. Ask direct and open questions such as ‘What’, ‘Why’, ‘When’, ‘Where’, ‘How’ and ‘How much’ if you want honest evaluations of events, services or products.
Use lead-ins such as…‘What do you think about….’ ‘Are you happy with …’ What would you do if you were the boss?
After an event, such as a meeting, seek ways to do better next time. “What did we do right?” “What mistakes did we make?” “How can we do better next time?”
* Set up formal surveys to collect opinions and facts
Plan feedback meetings and attitude surveys; carry out sample polls; set up focus groups to collect opinions and new information.
Invite electronic feedback and comments. People will often tell you things online they would not tell you face to face.
If you survey specific groups to collect opinions, try to use peer group surveyors. They usually have a better rapport with the people being surveyed and are more likely to get the information you need. For example, if you are surveying farmers, use farmers wives, or retired farmers to collect information.
* Reward people for valuable feedback
A sincere “Thank you. Your views are greatly appreciated” , is an easy way to acknowledge their effort.
Clients, staff, suppliers and potential customers can be rewarded with small gifts. Such gestures often encourage people to supply future feedback.
“Don’t be defensive, encourage honest feedback.”
SOURCE: “Time-Savers” Moss Associates, New Zealand and “Time Management Secrets” Cengage Learning Asia, Singapore. Also as an e-book available from Amazon.com.