By Neil Phillips.

Leaders have a love-hate relationship with feedback.  You know that feedback is the best route to improvement.  You also don’t want to be told that you have thoroughly mucked things up.  So… you hedge your feedback questions.  You’ll do feel-good surveys after an event (you know the kind—those innocuous 1-5 ranking questions that don’t tell you much), ask your friends to be honest with you, or just skip feedback altogether.  Here are some ideas about a better alternative.

Note:  I am not throwing stones.  I’ve engaged in some lousy feedback habits as well.

First, ask yourself the three questions (below) before you look at the answers from others.  Write your answers down so you don’t change them after reading what others have to say.

Second, keep your feedback anonymous and confidential.  If you want testimonials, ask for testimonials. Confidential and anonymous feedback is more honest. Besides, you don’t have to tell anyone about a bad review.

Third, take the good news with the bad news.  We all tend to poo-poo bad reviews and inflate the importance of good ones.  All feedback is equally valuable.  If you don’t accept what went wrong, you’ll never get it right.

Fourth, seek feedback on as many pieces of your business as you can.  And do it over and over again.  That way you will start to see the improvements.

Here are the three questions. Ask them in this order and leave room for the answer.

  1. What did you love?
  2. What did you hate?
  3. What will you tell others?

Love and hate are strong words.  When you use them, you are permitting honest, full-throated answers. That’s what you want. The third question boils all of the details down to a quick statement or two.

Three simple questions will give you all the feedback you want.  Believe it, and you will maximize your improvement in the shortest amount of time.

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