Balancing deep and fast feedback

Today I was hosting 2 Table sessions at SmileLondon on Efficient Feedback, a challenge I try to master everyday, in order to improve change (happy clients), develop sense-making, reduce conflicts (happy colleagues). To structure the discussion on such a big and critical topic that concerns any leader, I divided into two types of feedbacks

Circles-type

Deep Feedback < 10 people

A slow experience, in team, mainly face to face, including those dynamics and mediums: workshops, meetings, chat, call

Networks-Type

Fast Feedback > 10 people

A fast and org-wide experience mainly on an Enterprise Social Network, including company “all-hands” monthly meetings.

Regardless of the type of Feedback, the process is quite similar : Before any meeting, you have to request attention. The way you do it will have a strong impact on the willingness of the following steps: conversations & collaboration, with some desired outcomes (engagement, understanding, absorption, approvals & new set of actions) and unexpected ones (future disengagement, status quo, crisis).

During the Table discussion, “Body Language” popped immediately as a key feedback. Its absence was considered as an issue while communicating through phone calls or through chats.

Typical issues expressed by the participants are :

  • Listening problems
  • Blind spot
  • Bullying organisation
  • Conservative mentality
  • “Everybody is replaceable”
  • Annual or semestrial Employee Review
  • Disconnection between daily job and strategy
  • A need to prove that Feedback turns into concrete actions
  • Employees want to see the outcomes and see leaders take leadership of the issues.

Positive solutions provided by participants are :

My opinion is that the latter, networks-type, creates huge opportunities for employees and their organisation (Acceleration, multiplied Feedbacks, broader recognition and Awareness, Knowledge sharing, etc.) ; AND complexity as individuals do not work any more only for a specific team, where norms can be set and experience through daily interactions.

With Circles-type Feedback, you can embrace quietly and timely Reflective Practices, Group development , Experiential Learning, Peer-support. You organise small workshops where you map your relationships and behaviors through toolkit and approaches. I mentioned quickly those ones:

At the Team creation

  • Five conversations as a proactive approach to see how people look, act, speak, think, feel — “In my world…”
  • the DoubleX to map your key needs to master collaboration and see what emerges thereafter — “What do you need …?”
  • The Team Canvas to have a complete vision of your team purposes and goals

After a few weeks

  • the Johari Window, discovering your own blind spot, using 50 adjectives to map behaviors (“able, accepting, adaptable, bold, black, brave, calm, caring, clever…)
  • Non-violent Communication with the “I-Message” (I observe, I feel, I need, I expect) to force you to reduce the “You are…”

Those self-reflection tools can be part of your culture at any time. The main challenge will be the willingness of your colleagues to integrate such human-centered approaches while they are under pressure to focus on planning and task execution. Be aware that your organisational culture might not be what you think.

With Networks-type Feedback, where employees are solicited on dozens/hundreds of content and stories a day in various contexts, you will receive direct answers that might include radical candor and disagreement. As for crucial conversations, you might be caught by surprise. Meanwhile, as opinions might diverge regarding solutions, I suggest you embrace a creative process that support such divergence in order to reach convergence and alignments. This process is a mix of “Do, observe, think, plan”, the Do being your shared story (a report on a personal experience, a new proposal…), the Observe the Feedback… Thinking and (re-)planning will be a good conclusion of the conversation thread. And if you feel uncomfortable with some behaviors, switch to Circle-types. I know, it’s sometimes very difficult (fears !

So regarding Networks-type Feedback and the suggested Diverge-Converge process, I invite you to discover more on this emerging topic here. Welcome to this long journey of collaboration. I hope you will find the right time to balance both types of Feedback.

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