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Feedback and the egg mayo sandwich

One of the things that happens when we run the Resilience Programme in organizations is that we are given lots of really useful feedback by those participating - both about the programme itself and about the organization that has commissioned us. We are careful to make clear to delegates what is feedback and what is confidential personal information. We only provide information to the organization that is anonymous and aggregated so as not to identify the individuals providing the feedback, and these safeguards encourage employees to be honest and candid. The resulting insights can be pure gold for the organization's top team. 

One of the pieces of advice we give to our clients at the start of a programme is "if you get feedback, make sure you do something with it". This doesn't mean that organizations have to implement every suggestion made, or to act on every complaint, but treating the information provided as an opportunity for improvement and development can be extremely helpful. It is part of the resilience characteristic that we call Adaptability. The flip side that that ignoring feedback is highly demotivating for those who have taken the risk of giving it.

The importance of this principle was highlighted for me yesterday when I went into a cafe and ordered an egg mayo sandwich. It wasn't cheap, in fact it may be the most expensive egg mayo I've ever bought, and when it arrived both the egg and the mayonnaise were conspicuous by their absence. When the time came for the person serving to ask, as they do, "was everything all right for you?" I took the opportunity to suggest that the cafe could do with working on it's value for money. This clearly wasn't the expected reply, as instead of welcoming the feedback the waiter went into the hopeless process of trying to defend the product. Not a helpful approach - a genuine acknowledgement of the problem and a free coffee or a voucher towards a future meal would have been much more effective.

It's not easy hearing criticism, and if employees haven't had the opportunity to voice their opinions before there is likely to be quite a bit of that in the early stages. However listening and responding constructively to challenging feedback is part of the process of building genuine communications and a resilient organization. If you handle it well the long term benefits can be profound.