Insight News

Feb 13th

The feedback loop

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1391613 15195027This wasn't my idea. But I wish it were. It wasn't my friend Kirsten's idea, either, but is works so well that she has adopted it as her own. It's the Feedback Loop and HR Director Kirsten uses it "all the time," which means at work, at home, at dance class and anywhere she spends time with people who want to improve a skill or reach a goal.

The Feedback Loop (FL) has four parts: What's working? What's tough? What could you do? And, I have some feedback for you, if you want it.

Straightforward? Sure. Easy? Well, yes and no. Easy, once you get used to the taste of blood in your mouth resulting from biting your tongue. The FL works because the insight comes from the person who wants to improve. Not from the boss, coach or parent.

This makes perfect sense. A person climbing Mount Everest knows when she's not quite at the summit. Likewise, the person missing sales goals knows his paycheck isn't what it could be. FL begins with the premise that our friend is aware and has given it some thought. Kirsten's role is to let him unwrap the package and discover his own solutions and then support him in those solutions as he improves. Kirsten says anyone can do this.

First you ask, "What's working?" Then listen and repeat what you hear. "So, you're saying that when you put gas in your vehicle, it runs better?"

"Yes," says your friend, appreciating your support. This is when you take the first bite of your own tongue. Don't fix the problem, even if the solution is jumping up and down in the room. Wait. Listen. Ask the next question.

"What's been a challenge for you?" Listen. Wait. Bite. If you must make noise, make it a paraphrase of what you've heard. "So, you're saying, when you run out of gas, the car stops moving?"

"Yes, yes," says your friend, grateful to be understood.

"What might you do about that?" Listen. Listen. Wait for it...

"I could carry a gas can in the trunk in case I run out," your friend proclaims. Amen?

"Yes," you tell him, "You could do that." You pause to be sure he's out of ideas and then say, "I have some feedback for you, if you want it." If. You. Want. It. You must be willing to sever that tongue between your teeth if your offer is denied.

If your friend says, no, I'm good, then your job is to leave the door open. "Okay, just know I'm here for you." This is a neutral statement: no emotion attached. No guilt on either side. According to Kirsten, people should be allowed to fail sometimes. And if they do, they will know they can trust you to be cool when they come back looking for feedback... or a ride to the gas station.

Julie Desmond is IT & Software Recruiting Manager with George Konik Associates, Inc. Write to Julie at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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