Organizational Consultation XXII: Empowerment (Part Two)
Whatever the feedback process being employed, it is particularly important that an appreciative norm be established regarding the purpose of the feedback. Appreciative feedback is oriented primarily to the needs and interests of the person requesting the feedback, not those of the person conveying the feedback. Rarely will feedback that is unsolicited and unwanted be effective in changing the opinions, ideas, or behavior of another person. The person who is requesting the feedback needs to receive it directly, not via a secondary source. Whenever possible, the feedback should be given by someone who will be affected directly by the suggestion being made, behavior being emitted, etc. Secondary speculation about possible impact is much less desirable than direct testimony.
Appreciative feedback is conveyed in a sensitive and careful manner, with the sender checking frequently to be sure that the message is being received accurately. Even feedback that affirms a recipient’s values or self-perceptions should be checked for accuracy. The recipient is likely to overestimate the degree of affirmation being offered by the sender or is likely to discount what is being said. This reflects the pervasive inability in our contemporary society to accept compliments or support from others. Informational meetings that incorporate appreciative feedback not only make the participants feel good, they also enable the group to do a better job of receiving, interpreting, distilling, and making use of the information that is held by its members.
Exchanging Information among Group Members
In the busy lives of contemporary men and women who work in complex and changing organizations, there is rarely sufficient time to keep abreast of the activities, let alone the ideas, of colleagues. This inability to keep up with informational demands is one of the primary challenges to contemporary organizations and a primary inducement for organizations to change their structure and/ or processes.
Certainly, one of the key elements in this transformation is the informational meeting where all parties exchange pertinent ideas, knowledge, and opinions. How can such an exchange take place in an efficient manner? As in the case of the previous two types of communication, planning is required prior to the meeting. Those who are doing this planning must first decide precisely what type of information should be exchanged. An information-exchange meeting can easily become flooded with extraneous material if not tightly controlled. What needs to be conveyed? Why does this need to be conveyed?
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