Feedback Doesn’t Just Roll Down Hill

Many organizations have a model that feedback rolls down hill. The VPs give feedback to the Directors that report to them. Directors give feedback to the Managers. Managers give feedback to developers. It all cascades downward.

A manager’s job is to create an environment where the people who report to him/her can succeed. While it’s useful to hear how the people above you in the hierarchy view your work, it’s not sufficient. It’s also important for managers to understand how well they are doing in supporting others to do their work.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy for managers to obtain open feedback. People aren’t accustomed to giving feedback. They may fear they’ll be punished if they don’t stroke the bosses ego.

360 Feedback Processes are an attempt to get feedback from different points of view. In my experience, these programs don’t provide much actionable information. Its too easy to lob softballs or zingers, with no way for people to follow up.

I find that it’s more useful to find out what’s important to people and start a conversation. I’ve outlined a process to do that here.