The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

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I once worked for an organization where feedback was deemed as critical to the success of any project. In this case, these projects were sales cycles, but the general principle is transferable. This organization had a group called “Afterburner” in to speak with the entire sales force. Afterburner was made up of ex-military pilots and relayed the military’s philosophy of feedback. For these guys, feedback was not only about getting better, but also about surviving the next mission – if something went wrong and people were afraid to talk about it, or people did not adjust to the feedback, the next mission could result in someone coming home in a body bag.

Their philosophy around feedback was basically 1) nameless and rankless, and 2) all the time. My prior organization incorporated this by having feedback session at the end of client meetings, but any organization can do this at major milestones in a project rather than just the normal post-mortem after the project is over.

Unfortunately, this does not solve the fear of feedback. This is where the nameless and rankless bit comes in. It assumes that you really do want the feedback, you will implement it, and that any feedback is of value.

Adapting to feedback—which inevitably asks people to change, sometimes significantly—is critical for managers who find themselves in jobs, companies, and industries undergoing frequent transitions. Of course, adaptation is easier said than done, for resistance to change is endemic in human beings. But while most people feel they can’t control the negative emotions that are aroused by change, this is not the case. It is possible—and necessary—to think positively about change. ((Jackman, Jay and Strober, Myra. April, 2003. “Fear of Feedback.” Harvard Business Review.))

The inability to process feedback without apprehension could be a major limiting factor in career growth, and as you look at linkages between employee performance, engagement, productivity, etc, the ability to create a feedback receptive culture is quite important. HBR’s article has a number of tactics that can be used to cope with receiving feedback for those who are wary of it. Take a look, and see if you have a culture of feedback, or if you employees need an adjustment.

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