Feedback Matters

I’ve met so many new people in the course of developing and then going live with Reconcile Search this year. Building knowledge is what I enjoy most, it’s what energises me and drives solutions.

On the area of *feedback* I think its fair to say a lot of accountants are flying blind in 2022.

Last time I heard “flying blind” was in the treasury committee’s take on Kwasi Kwarteng’s decision to insulate his “mini-budget” from OBR scrutiny. Unless you’ve been on a wilderness retreat for the last month, you’ll be painfully aware of how poorly that ended for the former chancellor, and the rest of us for that matter.

Flying blind isn’t wise. We’ve now been reminded why, as events unfolded in one of the great offices of state. A wilderness retreat, on the other hand, is an excellent idea and the case for grows by the day. 

Some perspective. I should acknowledge that you not receiving good, timely feedback from your boss is unlikely to crash the Pound, send bond yields soaring and tank the FTSE – but I bet you’d still rather have it, if not in the name of UK economic stability, then maybe just to enhance your self-awareness? 

To a more serious angle – pay reviews, bonus, promotions and even more sensitive (thankfully rare) headcount reviews: in these cases – facts of professional life, feedback doesn’t fall under “nice to have,” but “need to have.”

Setting aside these awkward, anxiety-inducing subjects, how do we improve in anything without first understanding where we went wrong?

My preference for receiving feedback was always direct and in the moment. That goes back to working in audit when I’d report to multiple managers simultaneously, it gave me exposure to people from different backgrounds, all with a range of styles and personalities.

The best managers read the room, appreciate your personality and mood: adjusting for that, they have a clear view of just how direct they can be, deftly delivering the news that you fell short without causing pain or embarrassment. It’s a lot like a covid jab – no pain on contact.

Perhaps more common approaches fall here:

–       No feedback
–       Vague/second hand feedback
–       Out of date/irrelevant feedback
–       All good, everything you do is great!

In these cases there’s not really anything to get your teeth into.

As with everything in your professional life, you’re not an innocent bystander here. Are you doing everything you can to facilitate good, open, agenda-free dialogue with your manager? If that relationship isn’t right, it’s difficult (but not impossible) to straighten out. Discuss your preference for how/when you prefer to get feedback from your manager – it doesn’t guarantee anything of course, but it’s the only course open to you that will preserve trust.

This is a potentially powerful conversation, something that may well set you apart and marks out the first steps in developing your own approach to people management.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.