I know leaders who are obsessed with this: the systematic use of feed back between managers and staff, between people. ‘We want ‘a culture of feed back’. ‘We want one of these’.
It always sounded as a great management idea. A way to learn, particularly from mistakes (since western management thinking has always underestimated learning from success).
But it became a mantra, an obsession, a cultural expectation associated to good management.
In the extreme, it became a pure top down managerial tool to manage machine-like staff. Too much of this, too little of that, too early, too late, too aggressive, or not assertive enough, to unresponsive, or too fast in jumping in, understands the customer, not, he doesn’t, very creative, not creative enough, in the clouds, down to earth, does not communicate, ok, does communicate, good them player, not a team player. And all those HR-loved boxes are filled in. And the manager saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day.
All that often diagnosed by managers with no endowment other than their GPS position in the organization chart.
We need a constant two way, three way, four way, all way conversation. A de-tripadvisorization of management. A human dialogue that looks more like a non-robotic interchange, and less like a plan to replenish supermarket competency shelves: you are low on that stock, high on the other.
This is not a call to suppress feed back but to make it part of an ongoing human conversation, not a process, not a checklist, not a controlling tool. As many thinks in managerial life, one can only get away with them in ‘business’. In doubt, try this: ask you wife (or husband), ‘darling can I give you some feed back?’
BTW, I prefer feed-forward loops