Asking for feedback
June 1, 2006
I generally work on my own with groups and while it’s always great to get feedback at the end of a session or in subsequent days it can be difficult to get critical feedback that can help next time out.
This week, for the first time, I invited a colleague to observe my training work and I was very interested in how I responded. I was nervous before the session (I’m generally a bit nervous but this was off the scale!), left my office without part of my equipment and had to improvise and it took me a good hour or so to forget he was in the room. As the day progressed I settled into myself a bit more.
When the session was over there was an opportunity for the participants to offer feedback and I also had some time with my colleague. Both sets of feedback focussed on different aspects of the day and I was curious to see what my colleague had made of the work I was doing. I won’t go into the detail of his comments – but what struck me as really interesting was his ability to see me working in a way that I take totally for granted. He observed me “remembering” what had happened earlier in the day and bringing it back at a relevant moment. He also watched me restructure a segment of the day when something more interesting came along and the energy of the group went there etc. These are all standard things I “do” with a group and it was so helpful for me to have them noticed.
Asking my colleague into the room is part of a series of interventions I am making around languaging and describing what I do. More recently I asked a group with whom I had worked to write up their experience of the “problem” and the “intervention” as feedback for me and again, it was huge learning and a reminder that when I move into a comfort zone I tend to “forget” what it is I’m doing – I’m in that unconscious competence place.
It takes a risk to ask for feedback because so much of what we do is personal…but so far I’ve learned a lot about how I work in ways that would have been inaccessible to me. How do you know what you do? And how well it’s working?