Monday, 11 April 2016

Get Rolling on Feedback

There is always a desire to continually improve. A key component to this is the ability to collect and share feedback as it pertains to the area that you are looking to improve upon. From our first memories we are getting feedback on how we are performing. From our parents, coaches and teachers we have a history of getting some level of review from those around us on daily activities. So it should be second nature to solicit, receive and take action on professional feedback, right?

Well in some cases, despite our best intentions, we have not built in a strategy to account for particular levels of feedback for defined improvement initiatives.

So, how do we proceed?

First, target an area for improvement. The key word here is target; keep the scope simple to ensure you are able to make incremental improvements. Feedback works best when it relates to a specific goal. Outlining what we want to improve in the first place will better set us up for asking for the right information on feedback forms such as surveys.

Next, we need to plan how we will review and respond to,  feedback provided. People will be far more receptive to giving us information if they know that it is actually making a lasting difference in ways that matters to them. Plan to review and where appropriate respond on a schedule. This provides consistency for those receiving a response, but remember that keeping this simple will allow for you and your team to be able to consistently provide responses. It can be very easy to let this get out of control. Determining a timeline for the process of collection and review will depend on the improvement strategy which you are setting. For example some improvement initiative may revolve around workplace satisfaction which may be conducted annually as compared with a survey on speed of service for a particular customer interaction which may be more frequent

Once we have the feedback, translating it into something we can work with this the next step. In some cases the feedback on a personal interaction may need to be presented in a way which will reinforce the goal we are trying to accomplish in a ‘positive’ way, this is not say we should sugar-coat the feedback. However people may dwell more on a comment with a negative connotation rather than the issue it was meant to describe.

In the end collecting and responding to feedback will allow for your organization to improve not only the service which it provides but improving communication between you and your business as well.

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie and/or on LinkedIn



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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The Importance of Job Shadowing

When a colleague from SAIT (my college alumni) had asked if I was interested in participating in a job shadowing program, I jumped at the chance. The reason for wanting to do this was that this was opportunity I was not afforded when I finished school and wished I had. The students, who are wrapping up their final semester, are getting ready to enter the workforce with all the optimism and uncertainty that they can manage. Given the current economy I felt that I had even more in common with these students as I graduated in a bleak economic period with little on the job horizon as well. Reflecting on that time frame I wondered how different my graduating experience could have been if I was able to bounce questions off someone who had some level of experience in the industry.

The objective for the students, in their three hour window with me, was to observe and to ask questions revolving around how a typical day went and share some advice as it applied. While I could have had the students sitting with the team and watching them work, I decided that the time was best spent in them asking questions and then tailoring the visit based on the discussion

The question that I was asked the most, in fact by all of them, was “if there is one skill that you would say was the top skill, what would it be?”

Interesting, but not surprising, was that the answer to this was likely something that was not going to appear on anyone’s resume - it was networking.

I explained that especially in a tough job market the thing that differentiates people from a pile of resumes was that there is some level of connection to the person filling a position.

With each of the students I identified that there are many lines of networking to consider. There are several places to find connections. They range from professional associations, conferences, campus events, various social media platforms and mentoring opportunities such as this one. When I had finished school this was an area that was lacking to me only because I did not have direction on what to look for. As a result I always felt as though I was pushing a boulder uphill to get some traction on where to start.

I mentioned that getting the ‘foot in the door’ is a marathon rather than a race, and to not get discouraged when they get the sense that people only see them as ‘fresh out of school’. While that will happen, there are many more people who would see their fresh perspective and enthusiasm as a benefit rather than focusing on their lack of professional experience. In many cases, I explained, teams are looking for people who can ask the right questions rather than necessarily giving the right answers.

This experience was as much a benefit to me as it was to them. It provides me a networking opportunity also. After all there is a chance that I could be working with, or for, one of these people someday.

Take the time to connect and mentor with someone today.

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie and/or on LinkedIn

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