Feedback informal and improves all business relationships. Process and evaluation can interfere with feedback signals. So it is better to keep them separate. Using informal channels and frequent, two way discussion are key to effectiveness. Feedback is a skill which should be part of your lifelong learning approach. Improving will help you make better decisions and build better business relationships. It so important maybe we should call it feedforward.
Feedback - A Key Business Skill For A Startup
Giving and receiving feedback is one of the most important parts of business. It takes high level communication and learning skills in both directions. Large enterprises often use the word “feedback” to describe a set of internal processes. Staff reviews, Peer feedback. Team evaluation. And so on.
But feedback is a part of every business relationship. A startup is receiving feedback from customers, community and investors every day. Every minute in fact. In these terms, quality feedback makes a huge contribution to making good business decisions. It provides the best evidence you have for the needs, attitudes and goals of customers. Or investors and other stakeholders.
The problem is that feedback is often wrapped up with judgement and assessment. You need to separate the process and listening associated with feedback. Keep the management decisions and actions apart or you will pollute both. When you ask for feedback from someone who knows what you will do with it, their bias changes their response. It can work both ways. Over generous and positive feedback is more common than the negative and nasty kind. Both are of little value as input to your future plans.
Leaders often say “We need honest feedback to help us make the right decisions”. Even saying this tilts the playing field. Natural human behaviour is to give feedback which influences those decisions. Recognising this kind of behaviour is the thinking behind The Mom Test. Rob Fitzpatrick’s excellent book is all about persuading potential customers to tell you the truth. To share their real views of your product or idea.
Why Feedback Matters
It is worth learning this lesson. The benefits of feedback go well beyond improved decisions:
Small Business Consulting - How Great Feedback Works
Feedback is a core skill for anyone in the commercial world. Both giving and receiving. It can be learned and developed like other important capabilities. After 30 years of receiving, giving and observing feedback, here are my tips:
Startups begin with a feedback process. Customer discovery is the foundation of every success. Finding real world problems and designing solutions which offer real customer benefits. You will know that this is not easy. The techniques are hard. When it is done well the information can be full of contradictions and inconsistency. Getting information from customers and acting on it are two different things.
All feedback is like this. Hard to get the truth but worth it in the end. It is the only way to align your business with customers. And the best approach to developing your team. In a startup your first experience is receiving feedback. You will soon be giving it as well. The cycle never ends. Innovation, response to demand and business improvement are all built on this base.
Feedback is integral to building a team, building relationships and growing your customer base. On reflection maybe we should call it feedforward! For more small business consulting tools that will help drive your startup, subscribe to our newsletter below.
Kenny Fraser is the Director of Sunstone Communication and a personal investor in startups.