What I learnt this week: The power of feedback to your face #WITLW

This is the 76th #WILTW

Trip-advisor and related review websites have revolutionised realtime feedback to organisations. This is not just limited to hotels and restaurants as both Patient Opinion and NHS Choices allow ‘consumers’ to rate the care they have been given in health care settings. However individual feedback is a different matter. Doctors tend to receive anonymised 360 degree feedback. This consists of colleagues (of varying professions) rating a doctors’ performance across a number of domains and being able to provide short comments about them (but not needing to identify themselves). There are mixed views on this approach but it is useful for those who lack insights into certain behaviours to receive feedback in a way that doesn’t promote individual conflict.


This week I put my mouth in gear before engaging my brain at a meeting and said something I hadn’t intended to. It wasn’t something I thought was actually true just a very poorly thought out quip.  This wasn’t the first, and won’t be the last time, I do this I am sure. The reaction of my colleagues surprised me though – a number felt it was very out of character for me to make sweeping generalisations and seemed quite taken aback. This is not something I’ve been told before (but at the same time not sure it is something you would actively feed back to someone!) It made me think whether the traditional anonymised feedback process makes it difficult to ascertain what you are normally like, not just what you are specifically good or bad at. You can certainly suggest to people you’d like this feedback but in the context of the way an online 360 appraisal form works this is often not easy to do. Also feedback you feel is important for you maybe different from what is perceived to be relevant by those feeding back. I have often thought health care professionals should undertake the JoHari window exercise more often

JoHari window - via Roland D and Matheson D. New theory from an old technique: the Rolma matrices. Clinical Teacher 2012; 9(3): 143-147
JoHari window – via Roland D and Matheson D. New theory from an old technique: the Rolma matrices. Clinical Teacher 2012; 9(3): 143-147
The exercise involves a participant selecting, from a list, adjectives which they felt best described their personality. Colleagues of the participant then pick, from the same selection, adjectives which they feel best describe them. Those picked by both participant and colleague represent ‘open’ traits whereas those selected by just the participant would be ‘hidden’. Those selected just by the colleagues are in a more ‘blind’ area and this obviously enables discussion to proceed about interpersonal relationships.

Even just thinking about undertaking a JoHari window makes you wonder about how you will be described. Seeking out open feedback can be quite a challenge so it was interesting to see the success that Anne Cooper had this week in asking for comments on her own digital behaviours. It’s clear the process interested people, as not only was there a great deal of social media discussion about this, the blog has over 45 comments already. I wonder how this process would work for someone who doesn’t have such a large profile as Anne does but it demonstrates such as undertaking is a possibility (although I’m not sure it always needs to be done via social media!)

Anonymised feedback will always serve a purpose but I wonder whether direct “give me what you’ve got” feedback has an important place as well.

What did you learn this week? #WILTW


4 thoughts on “What I learnt this week: The power of feedback to your face #WITLW”

  1. I read this several time, but I’m still not sure that I understand what you mean. Did your colleagues tell you that you usually don’t make sweeping generalizations? And if so, did that surprise you? To me that sounds like a good thing.

  2. Thanks Katrin! I took the feedback as positive (i.e they felt I don’t normally make sweeping generalisation and this is probably a good thing.) I think my point – and this may have been lost in my meandering thoughts – was that this specific feedback may never have occurred in other forms (i.e 360 degree appraisals). I am glad I have received it and wonder how often there are things that others take for granted about us that we don’t don’t realise ourselves…

  3. But if it is a single occurrence, do you really need feedback? It doesn’t sound like you would need it to adjust your way of communicating. Sometime we focus so much on aspects where we could (or should?) improve and forget the things that don’t need to be fixed, that are fine as they are. But how do you give feedback on things that are neither particularly good nor bad in any way? We don’t praise people for not being sexist or rasist.

    Sorry for still not understanding what the feedback was and how you intend to use it.

  4. Might be a reflection personal to me, or perhaps a UK thing, but my experience of receiving direct feedback on a personal attribute is relatively rare. I suppose my muse is on how, in the UK at least, feedback is delivered in a generic, anonymised, revalidation based fashion and this was a notable exception. I’m not sure the feedback itself will change my practice; it was more about the way I received it. As with many #WILTW there is always the risk that I over think things!

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