2.2 The importance of feedback
Organisations which provide services to the community often require their staff to coordinate their work very closely. For those working in community healthcare or policing for example, who may be passing and receiving information across work-shift handover times or between colleagues covering a 24-hour on-call rota, it is vitally important that key issues are clearly identified, and that those receiving information understand its significance. There may for example be safety risks or vulnerable community members who depend on this good communication.
The essence of good communication in an organisational setting like this is to ensure that two-way communication is maintained through feedback. Like any communication skill, feedback – how to seek it, how to give it and how to receive it – must be practiced carefully and regularly.
Good managers for example, will usually aim to give constructive feedback to a member of their staff on their performance. Your manager should tell you where you have done well, where you have done less well and how to develop your skills and knowledge.
Feedback from others happens in more informal contexts too. If you have ever been told something about yourself that you didn’t know, that resulted in you gaining confidence in your abilities, you have benefited from positive feedback. Getting feedback from another person, of course, isn’t always constructive; it can be difficult and even stressful. However, planned well, it can be useful both in confidence building and in highlighting areas for personal development.
One big advantage of gathering feedback from other people is that their view of a problem you may be tackling may be different from the one you have yourself. Drawing on their perspectives can help you think about a problem in a different way, and open your mind to new possibilities and opportunities.
Activity 4 Getting feedback from a trusted colleague or peer
Take a few minutes to think about asking someone for feedback, particularly on your communication skills.
Note down your thoughts about people you might ask. They would be taking the role of a mentor – someone with relevant experience who you can trust to advise you, so choose them carefully. It may be a friend from your community perhaps.