Leader Volume 8, Number 10
Need For Feedback
Booher is CEO of Booher Consultants, a Dallas-based communications
As a busy
professional constantly balancing schedules, deadlines, and
priorities while dealing with a vast variety of personalities,
there is an often-neglected resource that can make the difference
between success and failure and conducting business with relative
strangers or trusted partners.
The resource is
feedback--and it's a marketing tool worth its weight in gold if
mined consistently and effectively. While many professionals spend
time assimilating, assessing, and acting upon information after a
project or event, relatively little time is
people mistakenly assume that feedback will automatically appear
on their desk, in their e-mail, or in person. While they sit on
their hands waiting and wondering, more insightful and
opportunistic professionals know that most feedback has to be
extracted, digested, and analyzed. Don't leave the responsibility
to others. This is your job, so take the initiative. You have too much
to lose if you don't get feedback and much to gain if you do.
the Right People the Right Questions
Many times it's
not that we don't ask for feedback; it's that we ask the wrong
person or the wrong question--and we end up with gossip or
guesswork. We ask associates for information only clients would
know, clients about things only vendors would know, and vendors
for data only associates would know.
To get the right response, you have to ask the right
responsibility to phrase your questions so others understand the
content and scope of your request.
Do you want general or specific information?
Personal opinion or survey data?
Selected input or overall consensus?
The more focused your requests, the more precise,
comprehensive, and helpful responses will be.
Up with Smart Questions
After you have
initiated the feedback and sought out the right people, interpret
and analyze what they've said.
Does their feedback need your feedback?
expecting more help from your support staff" or "I
didn't follow all the points of your presentation" are
potentially helpful comments, but they need further explanation.
Was your staff
to help? Or unaware
they were needed? Did you need to provide additional information
in your presentation? Define things more clearly?
Bring demos? Provide
specs from the manufacturer? If you don't probe deeper into
unclear feedback, you'll be left with mere complaints.
on Expertise from Your Partners
Most of the
professionals you partner with are just
that--professionals--experts in their fields of finance, public
relations, travel coordination, meeting planning.
Of the myriad of decisions you face daily, few of them have
not been heard of and successfully dealt with by your partners.
Instead of insisting on a 5:30 p.m. start for your downtown mixer,
ask the shuttle company the preferable times and routes.
Though you used a particular design for your brochures last
year, see if the printer has any creative alternatives.
Get suggestions from hotel staff as to the most effective
ways to set up a room. Be careful not to have your mind set so
firmly that you can't entertain better or newer suggestions.
Liberally to the Affected Area
After you solicit
and understand specific feedback, evaluate it in light of your
personal goals and methods. Is it an accurate assessment or a
subjective opinion? Is
the person in a position to know what he or she is talking about?
Is a change in your style or method worth the effort?
Will this change contribute to your long-term personal or
Granted, not all
feedback is created equal. But
don't just stand there, do something.
But do something!
dealing with caterers or clients, entertainers or executives,
accountants or advertisers--or all of them at once--feedback is a
great barometer for not only knowing where you are and where
you're heading, but also where your efforts should be focused next