For feedback to transform relationships it is imperative to close the loop. Go back to the people you asked, tell them what you heard and what you are doing about it. Then ask them what they reckon. As simple as that is, the dismal truth is that it is rarely done.
It is this element of our method, Constituent Voice that makes feedback collaborative rather than extractive. It is here where the relationship building happens and where joint problem solving can take place.
All that said, it can also be a bit embarrassing. When you receive bad feedback in most cases the first instinct is to ignore it, hide it or dismiss it. Airing it in public shows vulnerability – it’s an admission that not everything is perfect.
Keystone Accountability recently asked our partners, clients, and friends to answer a survey about our work. Although you told us some nice things, what we heard wasn’t all good. In a previous blog our chief executive David Bonbright discussed what learnt. Then, in a step to close the loop, in our most recent newsletter we mentioned this blog and reminded people of the survey.
One of the things that disappointed us was the low response rate to our survey. We drew people’s attention to this via the blog and the newsletter, and some people who hadn’t answered the survey contacted us to explain why.
It was a bit reassuring – people hadn’t ignored the survey because they dislike us. They said the survey hit them at a bad time, or they were suffering from survey fatigue, or they hadn’t spotted the email. Going further, some people made suggestions about how we could improve response rates in future, for example by sending surveys immediately after a collaboration finishes. And for these we are very grateful.
This process of sharing what we heard in our feedback process helped us make sense of what we were told. It gave us some good new ideas on how to improve. We feel think it strengthened our relationships.
One of the things we learnt was that we need to do this more systematically, more regularly, and we will always share the results – because listening and acting on feedback is the best way we can improve our performance.