The HR Juggler

Posts Tagged ‘Feedback

Learning with 'e's: The ripple effect | Skills4Growing |
Learning and development can be a powerful force, never more so when you can see the effects in your own team. My HR team has very much been in integration and formation mode this year; we have jointly undergone a huge amount of change and are still very much learning each other’s working styles, strengths, development areas and motivations. Having operated as separate, devolved HR teams, reporting directly into the business heads and each seated in their own offices, it is an adjustment for the whole team to be based together, sitting open plan and working collaboratively. Ironically communication can be just as much of an issue when a team is co-located…more of an issue in some ways, as you expect it less.

In advance of the management training for HR that will be delivered over the next couple of months, the team have completed 360 feedback questionnaires and the effect is already transformational. The conversations that it has opened, the reflection and self-awareness that it has brought, the willingness to accept feedback, adapt behaviours and to allow others the space to change and move forward have all been fantastic. It’s very early days, but the seeds have been sown for this to be a very powerful intervention indeed.

It’s easy to overlook the effectiveness of 360 feedback – in many ways, we ought to be able to provide feedback in a more regular way without requiring the formal framework. The fact is that sometimes we all need a bit of a nudge to articulate what we think is fantastic and less endearing about our colleagues…and that experiencing it together as a group seems to have created a huge amount of positive energy and goodwill. The timing of any 360 feedback exercise is undoubtedly critical to its success and it seems we have embarked on this at the right moment, where things are starting to come together and behaviours have not yet become ingrained. Fingers crossed!

I’d love to know what your experience of team 360s is and how you have energised your team…let me know 😉

I like feedback and if it is well delivered, it can be a very effective tool for making us more aware of our own behaviour and the impact we have on others.  Usually in my role, I coach others about the best way to approach delivering feedback; however, recently I have been reflecting on some of the most useful pieces of feedback that I have received in my career to date.  The commonality with all of these is the impact that they have had on how I act or the way I perceive things…more often than not on how I perceive my professional self.

Coincidentally these are also in chronological order – some of the early ones may seem blindingly obvious, but had to be learned, nonetheless 😉

1 – Just because you don’t articulate how you feel, does not mean that other people don’t know about it!

I learnt this lesson early on from one of my first bosses who gave me some good feedback on the fact that, like an open book, I am eminently ‘read-able’ in my body language and reaction to events. Sometimes this can be positive, but more often than not it is valuable to adopt a level of circumspection and I have (mostly!) learned to be more careful and considered.  The accompanying lesson to that one, is that just because colleagues don’t always choose react to non-verbal signals, it doesn’t mean that they have gone unnoticed.

2 – The areas that you think you need to develop, are not always the ones your boss would choose

Same boss, a couple of years later was talking to me about development and what I felt I needed to gain in order to progress. I opted for developing more ‘gravitas’ – partly because I thought it sounded sensible and suitable for a more senior role, but also because I believed it to be somehing I could do with developing more of. She gently pointed out that, in her opinion, I already had that in spades and had I thought about something totally different. She was right about it too – sometimes you’re not always the person who can see what you most need to improve, so asking and listening is vital.

3 – The colleague that you find difficult to work with, probably has some issues with you too

Peer-to-peer feedback is often tricky and my first real experience of it was when I worked with a business partner, who I felt always expected me to drop everything for him straight away and would hover over my desk expectantly when he wanted something from me, which made me feel like my personal space was being invaded. I found him to be a most unpleasant colleague and I took the time (when I wasn’t feeling too irritated!) to sit down with him and offer him some feedback along the lines of “I know you’re probably not aware of this, but when you do abc, it makes me feel xyz.” I had planned what I wanted to say very carefully and made sure I was neutral, clear and professional. The big learning for me in here though, was that when I had finished talking, he offered me some feedback in return and explained that he perceived me as being far too quick to dismiss an idea and say ‘no’ to it, without really exploring it or listening to his point of view. And actually, in fairness, he was probably right! At times, our conversation felt like a nightmare of diplomatic marriage guidance, as we tried to understand the other’s viewpoint, but the experience of giving feedback to eachother was highly valuable in improving our working relationship.

4 – HR people often neglect to practise what we preach

OK, so this may just be me ;). During a recent appraisal, my (non-HR) boss challenged me as to why all of my stated development goals were essentially ‘on-the-job’ training and learning by doing, rather than proper planned training courses or development. I recognised that since I have worked part-time I have often skimped on formal training, because I felt that I just didn’t have the time for it. He also challenged me about my external HR network (which was pretty sparse at the time)..and this prompted me to be a bit more proactive about it and led me to Twitter, ConnectingHR and the Unconference. And, believe me, that has represented a transformation of my HR network! Sometimes we can be so busy coaching managers about their development and that of their team, that we can end up losing sight of the need to challenge our boundaries and further our own development.

5 –  Perceptive comments from people who barely know you

Occasionally, someone can hit the nail on the head without realising it and say something that really resonates with you. For me, this happened at the Unconference in one of the breakout sessions, ‘The Politics of HR’, when the discussion moved onto blogging. I made the comment that I would have no idea as to how to go about starting a blog, and  the leader of the discussion laughed (kindly!) and said “that’s just really feeble – you work in a publishing company for goodness sake!” For me, that was a real light-bulb moment of taking ownership of my own development and capabilities and just giving things a go. I started my blog the very next day and haven’t looked back. I often think of that comment when I am facing challenges and it never fails to make me smile and toughen my resolve :).

And of course the feedback goes on, less often in a formal context now that I am more senior, but to be found nonetheless, if you are on the look-out for it.  Occasionally (as happened very recently) I am mortified by the realisation that I still fall into some of the same traps I thought I had conquered years ago, but the lovely thing about feedback is that it always an opportunity to learn and to put things right again. And of course, we are all human – thank goodness :)!

I’d love to know what feedback you have received over the years that has really resonated with you and influenced how you operate at work and home.

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