3 surefire ways to ruin your feedback process

3 surefire ways to ruin your feedback process

We know most people won't sabotage their feedback process on purpose - but some do it accidentally and habitually. This list contains the three most common ways we see well-intentioned organizations ruin their feedback loop.

Blake Kohler
Blake Kohler
Co-Founder / CEO
3 surefire ways to ruin your feedback process

Getting feedback can be challenging. Utilizing feedback can be even more difficult, but you virtually guarantee that your feedback process will fail when adding self-sabotage to your operation.

We know most people won't sabotage their feedback process on purpose - but some do it accidentally and habitually. This list contains the three most common ways we see well-intentioned organizations ruin their feedback loop.

Engage in feedback voyeurism 

Most of the time, gathering feedback means you get a lot of data. This data can look like stories, anecdotes, survey responses, ratings. They can even be in fancy charts and graphs.

Often the data itself is interesting to look review. You may find things you didn't know or find insights into issues your clients or workforce may be facing.

This review of data is necessary to understand what actions to take to improve your organization. However, data review without any effort to improve the situation can ruin your feedback loop.

Too frequently, organizations fall into the feedback voyeurism trap. They review and discuss feedback saying to themselves: "That is interesting..." without ever taking the next step towards meaningful improvement.

This pattern will eventually teach the groups you gather feedback from that their voice isn't essential, leading to less engagement.

Tip to Avoid Feedback Voyeurism:

Make sure you leave each feedback review session with a list of action items.

Conduct embarrassment avoidance 

Many social service organizations run in perpetual embarrassment avoidance. To quote a friend who ran a social service organization with a nearly billion-dollar budget:

"The problem with social services is a bad audit is worse than poor outcomes."

This culture of administrative fear leads organizations to shy away from anything that might paint them in a poor lens. Feedback often is critical and thus can be a natural place for people to avoid embarrassing themselves and their organization.

Unfortunately, this desire to avoid embarrassment can cause groups to ignore feedback, cast doubt on the feedback's validity, or even attempt to bury that feedback altogether.

It should come as no shock that this culture will not lead to a functional feedback process.

**Tip to overcome embarrassment avoidance: **

Develop a growth mindset where mistakes corrected are celebrated instead of celebrating mistakes hidden away from the outside.

Don't value people's voices.

One of the most damning things an organization can do when gathering feedback is slip into the mentality that "Most people's voices do not offer value and thus will not be valued."

Nearly every organization that reads this will say to themselves, " That's not our problem. We respect the people we serve".

However, when you read the trolling, spam, and harmful comments, it can be effortless to slip into the mindset that the only people giving feedback are people whose opinions you do not want. This disregarding of a person's opinion is a type of self-defense. We attempt to explain away the feedback as having little merit, and the easiest way is by attacking the value of the person giving the feedback.

This process of slowly seeing people as something other than people creeps into your feedback process like a slowly expanding weed in your otherwise manicured garden. It can blend in and feel innocuous, but given time and the bare minimum in the environment, it will consume everything around it - including things outside your feedback process!

Tip to overcome not valuing people's voices:

Try reviewing feedback (best if it's anonymous) as if it's coming from someone you know and value.

Good feedback takes work

Good feedback processes take work, and if you can avoid these three missteps, you can be well on your way to building a culture that uses feedback as a tool to make a more significant impact and improve your outcomes.