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The Importance of Feedback

December 20, 2013

Stuffed SocksOne of the most challenging tasks I face as a manager is the process of preparing end-of-year performance evaluations. All week, as I’ve kept my rump firmly glued to my chair, dutifully crafting sentences to reflect the good…and highlighting the opportunities for improvement, I’ve reminded myself that this communication is an important element of our society.

This is a chance to reflect on individual strengths and weaknesses in a way that is intended to benefit everyone, collectively. I believe that weaknesses aren’t simply areas to be focused on for improvement, but are often tasks (for that individual) that should be completely avoided. Organizationally, this might be the time to consider shuffling responsibilities and assignments, to help people build on what they’re already doing well and unburden them of tasks that are disproportionately demanding.

It helps my perspective to note the important feedback I’ve recently received, on something that is very important to me – offering comfort to the homeless. I have visited with Kyle and Roger on multiple occasions in the past few weeks. Today, Kyle provided invaluable feedback. The socks I’ve stuffed are too thin!

Based on feedback I received last week (from Kyle and Roger), regarding their desperate need for socks, I purchased extra crew socks. The new ones, however, are the thick winter variety, as opposed to the athletic socks I stuffed. Kyle explained to me that he and his comrades are on their feet all day, and the thick socks are preferred. That is good to know.

He also pointed out that the food items are too hard to eat, for those who are short of teeth. He suggested I buy softer food items. A friend of mine had mentioned that she keeps fruit cups on hand for the homeless. I’ll do the same. (I’m open to suggestions, if anyone has any guidance.)

The bottled water is another winner, and I gave him an extra bottle. I have two dozen in the back seat of my car, along with the socks.

And so, these men that I’ve chatted with a few times have enthusiastically thanked me for my gifts, and encouraged me to continue, with a few minor modifications. That is the spirit with which I intend to deliver feedback when I meet with my employees to go over performance and expectations for 2014. They didn’t come across as ungrateful. They understood that I want to help, although I’m slightly misguided. They offered the guidance (feedback) that I need.

“Thank you for all that you have done. Here’s a couple of things to consider, for the benefit of those you serve.”

I am glad Kyle told me what he needs. May God bless and keep him, during this season of sharing.

LORD, help me be as grateful and kind as Kyle in the sharing of feedback and in offering suggestions for others. Amen.

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