313. Feedback: Who needs it? We all do.

313. Feedback: Who needs it? We all do.

Have you ever gone to a restaurant, had an unpleasant meal, not said a word to the staff or management and shared the experience with your colleagues and friends?

I have.

Have you ever walked out of a store disgusted at the way you have been treated or ignored, vowed to never return, said nothing to the owners or management and vented your frustration on any friends who would listen.?

I have.

Have you ever hung up the phone in exasperation after endlessly waiting on hold and then being transferred from person to person? You vow take your business elsewhere, share your nightmare story with friends and never take the time to contact the company and tell them of your why they lost your business.

I have.

Last week I wrote of having sat through five different sales pitches during which the sales representatives devoted their time, not to extolling the virtues of their products and services, but rather to trashing their competitors.

I sought your input as to whether I should contact the management of these companies, tell them how these presentations were received by my colleagues and share with them my thoughts on the lack of professionalism in slamming the competition.

Overwhelmingly, those of you who answered my call for guidance, suggested I make the calls and so I did.

Yesterday morning I contacted each of the companies and asked to speak with either the owner or the most senior person available.

In each case I asked for the name of that person and received four names. At one company, the person answering the call would not tell me the name of the senior person but instead told me they would pass my name to that person and I would receive a call back “if she wants to talk to you.”

At the time of writing I have yet to receive any calls. I am, however, hopeful that I will do so next week.

The reason I believe the majority of you, in responding to my request last, encouraged me to share my concerns with  management of these companies is because, like me, you believe, we have an obligation to provide the opportunity for improvement by providing feedback to those who can influence change in their organization.

And perhaps, like me, you understand that if we exercise our right to say nothing to those folks we simultaneously forfeit the right to share our experience with our friends and colleagues.

Dr. Ken Blanchard, the well-known business author and guru is credited with saying “feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

If we wish to experience improved service next time we interact with these organizations then we must take it upon ourselves to provide them the feedback necessary for this to happen.

This is not to say that our concerns will be heeded or our voices heard but in the absence of doing so we are naïve if we expect anything to change.

The absence of feedback to the contrary is positive reinforcement.

We naturally assume we’re doing well when we do not receive information telling us otherwise.

I experience this quite regularly in my day job when I am asked by a manager to coach a direct report.

I always ask the manager how he/she determined whether that employee is not producing at his/her desired level.

I then ask the employee similar question: How do you know if you’re doing a good job?

It is startling how frequently the two answers bear no resemblance to each other and whenever the manager’s assessment of a good job differs from that of the employee, that hapless employee has no chance of being viewed as doing a good job.

Surprisingly, it is not uncommon to discover that the employee in question has never received any feedback suggesting he/she is not doing well.

Feedback truly is the lifeblood of success and I am curious to find out whether I receive any calls next week.

You will receive feedback on this from me.

Till we read again.

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