Feedback is our workplace’s greatest gift, and we celebrate it
September 2nd 2019
This is part of a series of thought pieces to celebrate the launch of AxiaOrigin – a values driven consultancy dedicated to creating a more prosperous and resilient world through the differentiated use of data and analytics.
Throughout my career so far, I have worked in dynamic work environments, with a diverse range of talented and intellectually curious peers and colleagues, many of whom (I am grateful to say) have become close friends. My conversations and experiences with these peers have consistently confirmed to me that at a personal level, deriving purpose and meaning at work, whilst being able to see a path towards continuous improvement and excellence, are vitally important towards maintaining professional wellbeing. I have come to realise that one of the most important tools to convey value and recognition is that of structured and honest feedback. Yet why is it so common and systemic for feedback to be either totally absent in the workplace, or to be reduced to an inconvenient and “fluffy” afterthought?
Honest, structured feedback from peers has the power to transform us
From my own experience, the gift of honest and open feedback has been a vital and undervalued way of transforming good work into great work, motivating colleagues to better themselves and building a better bond as a team. This is a view celebrated and shared by my colleagues at AxiaOrigin, where we consider feedback a gift to be shared generously with colleagues and clients alike.
For me, feedback has been a major motivator in understanding the value of my efforts. And sadly in the past, working in environments where feedback is not an accepted norm (as can be common in consulting when shifting to a new client and team) has shown obvious, negative voids. In these instances, I have found it so difficult to understand whether the effort I’m putting into my work is “good”, “great”, or just “passable” – it can be a truly deflating experience to put effort and care into your work, only to receive no indication of the impact it’s had on its intended audience, or on your peers. This is a convention which my colleagues and I strive to consciously reject.
Feedback at AxiaOrigin – our gift to you
At AxiaOrigin, we believe in the power of generosity; sharing our feedback model is a gift to you reading this. We believe in giving instant and specific feedback to one another as part of our team norms, and we do this in an additive and constructive way as a team.
In order to support this, we have adopted a structured feedback model which reinforces and encourages positive behaviours, and enables us to build on our strengths, rather than being focused on highlighting gaps in one’s ability. We have found it to be a powerful and positive tool. It works with four steps, as follows:
- Start with a specific observation: Take the opportunity to make a direct and specific observation about a colleague’s actions. Specific observations are important as they are grounded in objectivity, and allow the receiver of feedback to know in precise detail what they do well and can build upon
- Reflect personally: With this specific observation in mind, express the personal impact of this action on yourself – how it made you feel, and how it impacted you, whether positively or not. This is a very powerful way of enabling specific communication which conveys unobjectionable meaning and implication, without being confusing or controversial to the receiver of feedback
- Provide any clarifications: Pause and ask if any clarification is required on the feedback received so far. If the receiver of feedback seek any further clarity, you have permission to express yourself further in more simple terms
- Offer a build: Suggest a positive way in which the receiver of feedback can grow and continue to improve and refine their abilities. If your observations and reflections constitute positive feedback, this build offers the receiver of feedback a way to nurture excellence – a continual building on their strengths.
Our model enables instant, specific, and collaborative feedback to be given in real-time, whenever a situation demands it.
What does it feel like to adopt this approach to feedback?
To give a flavour of how this might work, after a meeting we may get together as a group in a circle and initiate a 360-degree feedback session. One person in the group would be selected to start giving specific and structured feedback to each of the individuals in the circle, allowing others in the room to come in when appropriate and add their own comments. This would continue around the room, until we have had each member of the team offer and receive feedback.
Our reflections as a team are that this makes for a powerful, uplifting and challenging experience, which helps us to grow in self-confidence, and bond with one another. This method and culture of feedback has also provided unexpected new insight to build on strengths we were not aware we had to begin with.
We are innovating and constantly seeking to iterate this method, based on the feedback of our team on the model itself. We have just begun trialling recording feedback and considering how to curate an audio feed that colleagues can revisit and re-listen to. Spending time listening to each other give and receive high-quality feedback in front of the whole team has been a unique experience and certainly part of our AxiaOrigin DNA. And we extend the invitation to you, to adopt this feedback model, and offer us your reflections on its impact.
Marios Kyriacou | Co-founder