The other day, I was asked what I meant by feedback. It’s such a commonly used word, but it means different things to different people. And rarely do they admit that they enjoy receiving feedback.
To some people, feedback means surveys because that’s how they gather feedback.
To some, it is complaints, because that’s usually how they become aware of feedback.
Then there’s those who only hear the word feedback after the word “constructive”. Even I get chills when someone offers unsolicited “constructive feedback”!
Feedback is misunderstood
In many walks of life, feedback is something people prefer giving to receiving. As a result, it’s something many people in business don’t ask for. There is a fear that, at best, it will tell them what they already know. At worst, it will be critical.
But not everyone sees feedback this way. When I googled the definition of feedback, my favourite was from Oxford Languages. “Information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement”.
Flying hairdriers aside, this is how top performers see feedback. Stars of sport, music, and theatre only reached the top by listening to feedback. Without feedback from coaches, mentors and even agents, they don’t know how to improve. Even those at the very top of their game, are still listening and still striving to improve.
I think the difference is in the definition. People fear feedback because in some settings it’s used to criticise rather than praise. Most brands (but not all) only hear from customers when something has gone wrong. Likewise, many managers only share feedback when something has not gone the way they expected it.
What if receiving feedback could be seen as positive?
The professionals and brands that rise above the crowd, are those that see feedback differently. They see it as information they can use as a basis for improvement. That means reinforcing the positives, as well as highlighting the negatives.
To achieve this, feedback needs to be encouraged and encouraging. It must highlight progress, reinforce new behaviours and celebrate the positives. Praise for a job well done creates so much positive energy.
In my experience, when feedback is balanced rather constructive, people respond. That’s why at MyCustomerLens we developed ways to encourage the collection and sharing of positive feedback. Our platform makes it easy for firms receiving feedback by highlighting where things are done well. This makes it easier for other parts of the business to see how to replicate the success.
I define feedback simply as information that can help you improve. It comes from a wide range of people and places, and it’s being shared whether you seek it or not. I believe that harnessing feedback creates rocket fuel for business growth.
So how do you define feedback? And when do you enjoy receiving it?