Last week I had the privilege of attending the American Society of Safety Engineers Leadership Symposium “Safety is about Leadership.” I had the opportunity to meet leaders in the industries of Organizational Development and Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) Management. I attended multiple sessions about how leadership principles impact the management of an EHS program. One session that really stood out to me was on feedback “The Leadership Key to Improvement” by Dr. Kathy Hart of Clear Vision Consulting. Dr. Hart spoke about giving and receiving feedback and that both are avenues through which we can improve management of our programs. One principle that stood out to me was that “feedback is data–it is neither negative or positive” and is about “asking the right questions, the right way, to solicit sound and current data about an act or actions that have been undertaken.” She pointed to the importance of understanding the source of the feedback and the need to ensure that it is from the appropriate level of an organization—the entire organization, a group or department within the organization or individuals. She also gave examples of how to solicit feedback and highlighted the importance of not only the results but also their proper interpretation–this is the greatest benefit of feedback and the key to moving any program forward. This really resonated with me because as a former onsite EHS professional and now EHS consultant, I understand the ease of getting lost in the daily grind and this presentation reminded me of the criticality of (1) asking our internal and external customers whether we are moving in the right direction with our programs and (2) determining that the programs are yielding their intended results. Dr. Hart presented the following examples of ways in which to solicit feedback:
- Focus Groups
- 1 on 1 Interviews
- Dot Voting
- Gradients of Agreement
In addition, Dr. Hart touched on the importance of asking good questions. Questions that are open-ended or inquiry-based are those that facilitate information gathering and provide one of the best mechanisms for feedback solicitation.
Have you used any of the above to solicit feedback? If yes, how did it work for you and how did you apply it? If not, what methods have you found successful in soliciting feedback? Join the discussion and share your thoughts in a comment below!