Feedback is essential
Whichever your paradigm, feedback is essential. Organisations subscribing to the traditional paradigm often frame feedback as an annual process, a periodic effort to help people become better leaders as defined in generic terms.
Organisations that subscribe to the systemic paradigm recognize the failings of this approach. They know that leaders working in an ever-changing complex system need a constant, ceaseless, regular flow of feedback if they are to be most effective. But feedback is hard to source unless everyone in the organization is comfortable asking for and receiving feedback, which is why some organisations seek to build feedback cultures. Some organisations see periodic feedback programs as a blocker toward enabling feedback cultures. If everyone knows that everyone else will be undertaking a 360 feedback exercise every year, it takes the onus off providing feedback on an ongoing basis, so goes the thinking.
Feedback Programs Can Be Useful
Although traditionally designed feedback programs often yield little value, we think they can be useful if debriefed from a systemic perspective and if the process encourages participants to engage in dialogue with others. The real value lies in helping participants to build trusting relationships as part of the program, through which they will have access to regular, ongoing feedback in the future. Designing such programs requires considering a few key questions.
- What is the purpose of this program?
The purpose of feedback programs is usually expressed in terms of helping people to become better leaders. That purpose, however, may be empowering and systemic or it may be essentially coercive. The coercive agenda starts with the premise that every leader ought to seek to achieve a ‘perfect profile’ as determined by the underlying philosophy of the tool being used. The coach is expected to make sure that participants understand what that perfect profile is, and to take steps toward conforming with it. Such programs may provide coach and coachee with just one or two sessions, time enough for the coachee to understand what ideal leadership looks like and to come up with a plan to close the gap between their ratings and that profile. The more systemic and empowering approach recognizes the role of the coach in helping the coachee make their own sense of the data. Such programs usually comprise at least three sessions, providing the coachee with a reflective space to move from data, to sense-making, to action. Establishing the underlying purpose of a program is essential in being able to answer these next few questions.Download Article 1K Club