Nowadays it feels like everyone wants your feedback. You order a sofa and you are requested to provide your feedback on the ordering process; you take a call from your bank and they want feedback on the adviser; you return from your holiday and they want to know ‘how was it for you?’. We all do it…at the end of our training courses, we ask for feedback. Whatever your view is of ‘happy sheets’, they still exist, and clients still love the comfort they get from that initial review on how the learning was received. But what do we do with all that feedback?
I was recently shocked (yes shocked) by the response I was given to that question when I asked it of a big red tour operator. I had taken 20 minutes of my precious time, and frankly time that should have been spent elsewhere following my return from a 10 – day break in the middle of a contract, to complete their online feedback. It asked me to rate a series of questions, as well as a need to add comments before I could proceed to the next question. Now, as you’ve probably already guessed, and especially if you had read any of my other articles, I am not shy of giving my point of view – always constructively I’d like to add but I am happy to tell anyone what I think if they ask. So, I dutifully completed their survey and hit the submit button expecting to get a response given the feedback I had offered. A week went past…nothing….10 days went past…nothing….so I decided to use the power of social media to get a response. Within four hours of posting a ‘very disappointed’ comment, I had a message asking me to provide more details. So, my feedback didn’t get a response but a posting on social medial did? That’s not the worst of it, once a representative finally agreed to speak with me, they told me that it is not their normal practise to follow up on the feedback directly with the reviewer; feedback was only used for discussion internally. How then do I know that my feedback has been noted and even better, acted upon? And if it wasn’t, then what was the point of me taking the time to complete the feedback?
There has been much written recently on the importance of providing a feedback loop to demonstrate a learning culture within a company
My experience then got me thinking about how I use the feedback I receive on my training courses. I, like lots of other trainers, have a tally up of the ratings so I can report on a learning evaluation score; I even pick out a range of positive and negative comments to share with my stakeholders but what actions do I take to complete the ‘loop’? The word ‘loop’ implies there is a continuous circle, so to me that would imply I need to take some form of action in order to demonstrate what I have done to address learners’ comments – negative or positive. There has been much written recently on the importance of providing a feedback loop to demonstrate a learning culture within a company, so what is the impact on the learner if we are collecting the feedback but don’t complete the loop by not responding? Well in short, it is probably the same as I feel about the big red tour operator. To get a response I had to submit a complaint. I didn’t want to complain; I just wanted to offer my ‘feedback’ as I was asked to do, and in my opinion, by complaining it meant that they missed the point as they went straight on the defensive and were trying to prove each of my points as incorrect.
Is this how learners feel? Do we force our leaners to ‘complain’ so that we complete feedback loop and even when they do complain, we defend our point of view rather than listen to the message? If we do, then there could be lots of disgruntled learners out there. So, what can we do to help prevent this and close the loop?
- ASK PERMISSION FOR FURTHER CONTACT – Most feedback is collected anonymously so if a delegate offers a particularly insightful piece of feedback, ask their permission to contact them to discuss it further after the training course or if they will agree to you passing on their details to your stakeholder so that they can take the discussion further. Not only will this mean that you can gather more information, but it should also have a positive ripple on the other delegates as others become aware that you do actually act upon their feedback.
- COLLATE THE INFORMATION – Take the time to collate all the data from the ‘happy sheets’. Being able to compare all the data on one page, typically on a spread sheet, makes it easier to identify and track trends in the feedback.
- CREATE A WORD CLOUD – you can use apps to do this for you or simply read through the collated feedback picking out key words. Again, you are seeking trends, so you may be looking to see if the same words are repeated or are the expected words reflective of the message you are trying to convey.
- INDENTIFY YOUR ACTIONS – what are you going to do with all this information? I like to summarise my findings on one page or one slide which includes:
- What you did i.e. at a high level the training aims/objectives/content
- What we learnt i.e. what the feedback told you
- Proposed actions
- COMPLETE AND COMMUNICATE – once your stakeholders are on board, plan your time to complete these actions. Be visual in your actions and take the time to communicate them with the reviewers so they are kept informed of progress.
- COMPLETE THE LOOP –
By completing these steps, you may not be able to engage every disgruntled learner but at least they will be able to see that their feedback is listened to, and where appropriate, action is taken as a result. As for me, the big red tour operator won’t be booking my holidays again – a shame, as I quite like their ‘countdown to the big day’ notifications.