Thursday, July 7, 2011

Feedback: Is it instant or in a file?

This July 4th, my family was invited over by friends to grill out and watch the neighborhood kids shoot fireworks. As the firework festivities began, one of their neighbors came out with a digital SLR camera to take shots of the fireworks.  It was a new camera and she was learning how to use it, especially at night.  After a few clicks, I asked how the pictures were turning out and she said, "Not good...they're blurry." Having dabbled in photography, I walked over to offer a few suggestions on settings that typically work when shooting photos in low light environments and returned to my host.

A little later I asked about the photos and got, "That fixed it! They all look great!" Then she added something that hung in my mind. "That's the beauty of this camera...I get instant feedback." I began to think, "How did the 'old-school' photographers learn which settings worked the best?" They were limited to having to take the photo, wait until the roll of film was finished and processed before they were able to see the results of their selected settings. I'm sure they had a system, but it sure seems pre-historic.

The same is true with the people who help us complete our tasks. They need instant feedback. How successful would any athlete become if he or she only received feedback at the end of the season? Hopefully, that doesn't make sense to you. 

The people we influence need frequent feedback on how they are doing and how it contributes to the success of the big picture. They need to see the value they add as well as if something they are doing isn't adding any value at all. But this information cannot be put in a file only to be retrieved for the "annual review." Our feedback needs to be instant and in tune with where they going and how it adds value to the objectives of the organization.

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