I’ve got a question for you and I’d like you to answer it honestly. What is your first reaction if someone gives you feedback that says “I didn’t like that” or “that could be improved by...”?
Come on now, be honest! Hurt? Frustrated? Defensive? Maybe even angry? All perfectly natural responses, all of which I’m guilty of from time to time.
But why should these be our reactions? I’m sure we all do the best we can every day of the week, but that doesn’t mean everything we do is perfect. And that’s ok.
I think feedback fits into at least one of three categories:
· Something I knew and am kicking myself for
· Something I didn’t spot but which is worth giving some thought to
· Something that is just plain wrong
I want to suggest that all the above are useful and that, once we’ve got over our initial emotional response, we should take some time to think about every bit of the feedback we get. I also want to suggest that none of us are perfect and that there’ll always be scope to try something new and improve.
So in the first two cases above, try to take time to reflect on the feedback you get and come up with a nice, easy plan to address them. If that doesn’t work, at least you’ve tried something and you can always come up with another idea. With the last case, just ignore it (provided you’re absolutely sure that the person who gave you the feedback definitely didn’t have a little bit of a point!).
I want Northampton College to continue to be a learning organisation as much for its staff as for its students. This means we all need to have the resilience to hear honest feedback, to genuinely reflect on it and to try to improve where it was valid. It also means we need to try to take feedback a little less personally, which can be tricky. It’s a challenge to us all to focus more on improvement than on blame.
If we can do this, I think we’ll all be much more confident in our work and the College will continue to go from strength to strength. I might regret saying this, but I’ll promise to give you honest feedback if you promise to do the same for me.