I gained a new understanding of “feedback” when I considered the two words that comprise the word. It is appropriate the word begins with “feed,” as in “feed me.” Appropriate because feedback is a fuel we all need to grow. Management guru, Ken Blanchard, put it best when he said, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
The second half of the word, “back,” as in “looking back,” is also appropriate in that feedback provides a hindsight perspective from others on who a person is and the value they bring to the organization. Effective “feeding back” can be a powerful fuel for performance, self-confidence, self-understanding, and growth.
Regretfully, many if not most church staff and volunteers are malnourished when it comes to receiving information from their supervisors about how they are perceived and how they are doing. They are literally starving for feedback. Supervisors beware….this lack of feedback is harmful to the health of staff members, volunteers, and the church.
Feedback Side Effects
A lack of effective feedback has the following negative side effects:
- Lost opportunities for the person, their ministry, and the church
- Job duty confusion
- Lack of clarity on performance expectations
- Loss of confidence
- Stunted self-development
- Feelings of not being appreciated
- Loss of the person, either psychologically or physically
Effective feedback has the following positive side effects:
- Provides understanding of themselves and where they can make the greatest difference
- Creates opportunities for learning and growth
- Provides encouragement by affirming strengths and value
- Offers direction
- Provides an honest reality check for the person
- Provides career, role, and job development guidance
- Builds a stronger, more trusting, and more collaborative relationship between the supervisor and the supervisee
When It Comes To Feedback, It Takes A Team
To ensure the most complete and fair picture of a staff member or volunteer, it is important to periodically tap into a broader network for feedback. Empowering everyone in the organization to provide feedback can have a powerful effect. People who might provide additional insight into a church staff member or volunteer include:
- Staff Members at all levels
- Ministry Volunteers
- Church Leaders
- Church members
- Ministry partners
Helping people to periodically seek the viewpoints of others in their network allows them to check their assumptions about their performance, expand their understanding about themselves, and discover how they are perceived by others.
Supervisors should also be available to help their employees and volunteers debrief the feedback they receive from others. They may need help in processing, evaluating, and contextualizing multiple perspectives and identifying common themes. They may also need help in developing action steps in response to the feedback.
Keep It As Simple As ABCD
Most people are not formally trained in giving or receiving feedback. Since opening oneself up to share an opinion or hear the opinions of others can be daunting, it is always a good idea to establish a simple framework…..as simple as ABCD. Focusing on only four things – Attributes, Blind Spots, Circumstances, and Development, relieves the tension we all feel when giving or receiving feedback. Consider specific questions like these to help trigger specific and actionable responses.
- What are my greatest strengths? What are my hard skills? My soft skills? My intangibles?
- How can my strengths be maximized?
- How do I add value?
- Where have I not met expectations?
- What are the shadow sides of my strengths?
- What am I not seeing or doing? Where am I not self-aware?
- In what circumstances am I most successful?
- In what circumstances do I struggle?
- What circumstances trigger a negative or stress reaction in me?
- What one area could I develop in that would make the biggest difference?
- What should I start doing? What should I stop doing?
- What are the best resources available for my development?
To be effective, feedback, whether positive or negative, requires reflection and usually some form of action. If positive, it provides the opportunity to determine how to leverage and build upon strengths and successes. If negative, it’s a chance to determine new skills and approaches to be learned. Either way, thought provoking follow up questions can be a key to helping the person get the most out of feedback.
- How does this feedback hit you? How does this make you feel?
- What does this feedback make you want to do?
- What steps might you take in response to this feedback?
- What changes do you want to make in response to this feedback?
- Whose help will you need?
- What resources will you need?
Finally, always check your intentions before providing feedback. Are you trying to prove a point or are you genuinely interested in using the feedback session as an opportunity for the person’s growth? Church staff and volunteers always want to know what their supervisor thinks about them and can handle even the most negative feedback if they know you care, have their back, and are in their corner. Remember, a trusted supervisor provides honest candor as well as caring words and concrete support.
Posted on April 30, 2019