Feedback – whose responsibility is it?

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360degrees2Working with a client the other day he mentioned that he never got feedback from his boss on how well he was doing. When I asked him if he ever asked for feedback he admitted he hadn’t and that he avoided bringing it up.

When I asked him why he thought his boss never gave him feedback he thought it might be because he didn’t have anything good to say – which is why he avoided bringing it up.

When questioned further he wondered, on a slightly more positive note, whether or not his boss just wasn’t used to praising staff or hadn’t been trained to do it.

It started me thinking about whose responsibility it is to provide feedback? Is it just up to the manager to do this and only at specified times of the year as part of the dreaded performance review process? Surely not.

Why shouldn’t people ask their bosses for feedback as part of their own career management?

And why stop at bosses? As anyone who has undergone a 360 degree feedback process knows it is very interesting to find out what other people think about your performance and behaviours and can be a powerful incentive to change or improve.

So maybe managers should give themselves permission to give staff feedback at any time it is appropriate and staff should be more assertive about asking, even demanding, feedback.

Years ago Schein said that everybody at work wanted to know how well they were doing. Recent research however suggests that it doesn’t necessarily work out so well for women. Women in groups receiving feedback seem to perform less well.

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