Feedback is informative, powerful and essential to our lives. It comes in many exciting and varied forms from the music of Jimi Hendrix to an Ebay profile, and from a parent saying “Don’t touch!” to a partner saying “I do”. Yet, when we consider feedback in the work environment, it ceases to be much more than a contraction for “Watch out, bad news is coming”.
Given enough time, most of us will probably doubt constant good feedback and ignore constant bad feedback; as they might both seem to mask a hidden agenda. To complicate matters further, the feedback sandwich of “good, then bad, then good again” can often seem a snack best chewed with care with the filling having more bite than the bread. It therefore follows that we should look more carefully at the whole dish and its preparation, consider what we need from our diet and learn to order our feedback à la carte – rather than obediently eat from a set menu. Perhaps our response to change has been similarly affected. Anyone with a computer that automatically receives software updates cannot fail to appreciate employees’ frustrations, as they are frequently surprised by managers informing them of new duties and procedures to which they must adhere, but about which they were never consulted. And yet we live in a world where we frequently yearn for change that is “as good as a rest”. I believe that part of the answer may lie in our response to the changes that are imposed on us, and it can also lie in an enhanced ability to engage those we perceive as responsible for such change in a meaningful dialogue.
Feedback and change have limited shelf-lives, and we believe that by exploring our responses to each in different situations with different levels of control, participants will gain greater self-belief in their ability to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly.