How important is Feedback?

Feedback is so important in any aspect of life, if you want to evolve.

We met with our boss recently who has decided to move on and being his last meeting, the meeting owner decided to have a round the table 2-way feedback session.
This meant our boss told us all, one thing to improve on, and we reciprocated.
Now, if only it was this simple, in life to get people to share what they think about you.

Wait, I am not saying all who shared their opinion were honest about it. I felt so, as everyone only had positive things to say about him. He is a good, honest, straight up guy but surely some one would have seen potential to improve in his career, gaps to fill in his personality? Only one girl put in enough effort to be precise, and helpful. I was caught between trying to be PC as well as honest, and kind of muddled the two which may have made me sound vague or weird!

Coming back to the ideal situation, of being able to ask one’s peers for feedback and get it straight-up.

1. The person asking needs to have an introspective approach or at least intention, especially when receiving the feedback.
2. The peers must not come from a place of fear or sycophancy, and should put in enough effort to make it count.
3. The request should be clear whether the feedback is for the past or a constructive criticism for the future.

I am sure there are many other aspects to make it perfect, but these I believe, are key prerequisites for a fulfilling feedback session.
So when you do ask for feedback, whether in personal or professional setting, make sure you think about these 3 points.

Oh and one more thing, practice active listening – which, by the way, was the constructive criticism of yours truly. 😉

OCPC-ness: Obsessive Compulsive Political Correctness

I was talking to an acquaintance, who recently emigrated from Britain. We exchanged notes on LinkedIn trying to connect and grow our professional network. His aim in meeting me and many more people in his first month was to get a handle on the quintessential kiwi. Who is he? What makes him tick? What are the beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that makes a kiwi, a kiwi?

It’s ironic that I was asked this question, but as a migrant / outsider, looking in, certain objectivity does lend itself to all my observations about life here.

The one thing I said to him was that kiwi’s hate to express any negative emotion, be it constructive or fair or just or necessary. They would rather say yes, may be, will have a look at it, then say to your face, no, not for me, or I don’t think it’s a good idea.

I am trying to rekindle my writing and but it’s getting more difficult to write without either ranting or advertising something. Which I feel most people are doing on number of ‘social’ networks.

There’s no audience for simple debates, simple questions, frank discussions any more..

Either you are pitching for business, or trying to get a job, or trying to impress or trying not to get in trouble by being politically correct (PC).

Being PC has lost all it’s meaning I believe. I thought it meant conveying your thoughts in way that is sensitive to all people, cultures, ways of life so it does not offend them. But still making a stand, expressing your real opinion, conveying what you really think.

Today in NZ, especially in professional circles, PC means not talking at all about anyone’s short comings, failures; avoid any topic that points out, singles out anyone for improvement, or holds some one accountable.

So instead of saying,

“This team member is making many mistakes on the job, s/he needs proper training, guidance, or discipline (what ever is appropriate)”

I find people around me saying some thing like:

“We need to look at the process to see what’s causing inefficiencies in that team”

This not only dilutes the content to a mere platitude but also prevents any meaningful action, accountability, improvement or any fruitful outcome at all. Not to mention, demotivating the rest of the performing team members, whose efforts resulted in a less than ideal outcome.

Am I being harsh / negative? Or are we losing our voice in order to appear PC. I believe a society built around such tongue tied young minds, will beget a lack lustre economy at best.