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Responding to Feedback

“What is the shortest word in the English language that contains the letters: abcdef? Answer: Feedback.

I guess that makes feedback a very important word and if there is anything I’ve learned from decades of working with managers and human resource professionals, it is that if you ask for feedback you are certainly going to get it. The second thing I’ve learned is that in order to maintain any shred of credibility, you had better act on the feedback that you receive. The final thing about feedback is that a good manager takes feedback as input and then goes and makes the best short and long term decisions for the organization.

We engage in a lot of dialogue within our organization and you might have noticed that we ask for a lot of feedback from our members. We have an ongoing on-line dialogue and we survey all members, subscribers and past event attendees on services and events to help us deliver what they want in the future. Thanks to you, we’ve always had an excellent response to these requests for feedback.

This not only helps let us know what how we are doing but also assists us in planning for the future. We take this input and then spend hours with our regional teams studying these results, and then identifying topics and finding speakers on sessions they want to hear in their own locations. But sometimes the feedback from members quite frankly just confuses us.

After we have had a speaker travel from one end of the country to another at their own expense to offer a seminar on a subject that members have identified as crucial to their success, we get poor attendance or feedback that says things like “The topic doesn't have any relevance to my job”. A case in point was our series on Financial Management issues in newsletters and also at events. This may not be something that directly affects your job today, but being knowledgeable of the key elements of financial management like risks and fraud just might help you save your job or protect your organization some day. Just because you may not use this information today doesn’t mean you may not need it tomorrow.

A prime example of this is what happened at last year’s fall conference in Toronto. We featured a session on Managing Change in Turbulent Times. It was a panel discussion with Howard Levitt (employment law), Philip Gennis (financial management) and Monika Morrow (management consulting). In my view, it was probably the best session of the conference covering what to do in times of downsizing, mergers & acquisitions, restructuring and bankruptcy, and some people didn't think they needed it.

After the conference, we got calls from HR mangers from leading firms in Toronto asking us for more information, as now they needed more than what we just wrote about. They regretted that they didn't make the time to attend. We also heard from people who didn’t think the topic was that relevant but came to the conference and actually learned something that they could implement later on in their own workplaces.

We all struggle with the challenges of managing time and energy but if you spend all your time and energy dealing with the present, you may find that you have few resources to call on to meet the challenges which will almost certainly present themselves tomorrow. When you see the topics for our next session and think that the topic really doesn't apply to your present job, think again. Is this knowledge I can use tomorrow to help myself and my organization in the future?

So keep providing your feedback. I want you to know that we are always here listening to what you would like your organization to have. We will continue to provide you with topics that can not only help you today but also equip you for the future.


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