You look in the mirror, realize you have mustard on your lip, and wipe it off. The mirror is providing you feedback by presenting a current picture of reality. This motivates a change in behaviour and you wipe your lip clean. In your business, feedback creates a winning team by helping you align your collective compasses. Feedback tells you what you are doing well and where you might need to course correct.
Changing Your Behaviour
In the early days of growing your business, feedback helped you learn what was effective and productive. If you yelled at an employee for making a mistake and they quit, you hired another person, who made the same mistake. Through observation and reflection, an exit interview, or perhaps a conversation, you learned that training and coaching produces better results than yelling. Feedback helped you change your behaviour.
As mature business owners, we rarely get good, honest feedback any more. We have our own way of operating and if we’re successful, what we do works. We believe that our way is right, so may have quashed meaningful feedback from our employees as our sense of being correct became entrenched.
Learn from Mistakes
In his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith declared “Successful people only have two problems dealing with negative feedback. However they are big problems: (a) they don’t want to hear it from us and (b) we don’t want to give it to them. ”Success has handicapped our ability to learn from feedback, so we accept information that reinforces what we already “know” and reject information that contradicts our established belief system.
We need feedback – both positive and negative, for ourselves and our management team. Goldsmith goes on to say: “Without feedback we wouldn’t know if we are getting better or worse. …we all need feedback to see where we are, where we need to go, and to measure our progress.”
Feedback Creates a Winning Team
Your management team needs to know what new skills and behaviours will enable them to be successful. Because it’s hard to get honesty in face-to-face meetings, 360-feedback tools were developed. They provide anonymous, concrete, quantifiable information that is difficult to rationalize. A 360 tells us what behaviours to strengthen and/or change. Like looking into the mirror, we see what is wrong, then we are motivated to make corrections. We make a change and look again to see if it worked. A formal feedback loop helps develop a self-regulating management team capable of running the business even if you aren’t there.