Pia Nilsson on the importance of feedback


As a consultant and educator, I love standing in front of an audience and teaching. If you, like me, have a history as a lecturer, you may recognize yourself in that wonderful feeling when you have a group of committed individuals in education – individuals to be able to teach their tips and tricks to.

But with our hand on our hearts, no matter how good an education feels, I know that the best education takes place in real life, when we are out working and lifting each other "in action" and where we can reconnect based on shared experiences.

Furthermore, if, in peace and quiet, we go through certain work situations step by step and discuss what was good and what could have been done differently, we will create a development that really endures. Inspiring lectures in all honours but, as with physical exercise, it is unfortunately not enough to go to the gym and look at the machines to get strong. Personal development requires a real effort.

Inspiring lectures in all honours but, as with physical exercise, it is unfortunately not enough to go to the gym and look at the machines to get strong. Personal development requires a real effort.

I have my history in sales coaching and when I have worked in the field I have seen that many organizations work with co-visits continuously, i.e. that the leader follows the employee on certain work assignments in order to be able to coach based on real events. I will use the joint visit as an example in future text, but I believe that even those organisations that do not use co-visits can still understand what I want to conclude.

In my experience, I have seen that co-visits often lack structure – how these should be carried out is not structured. There is sometimes also a lack of understanding of why these are done. Is it to make us better? Or is it just to rate?

I have seen different examples of what often happens after a joint visit. A common one is to say; "this went well, we'll take this deal!". That's super fun! But is it developing? If the co-visit is documented, it is common to write down what the person does well and does not do well on a form. Do you do this so that the individual develops and wants to do it again or to report to management what the person is doing well and what is not? Or do you even do it because it's a box to be ticked off?

The other week I had an exercise with some managers at a company that uses Mentor, we went through how they can develop their way of giving feedback on co-visits. After a few exercises in this, they themselves found that the feedback they had given on previous co-visits was too unstructured and concise. It was written, as I mentioned earlier, to tick the "implemented" box rather than create value for the one it was intended for.

Managers quickly realized how simple things, such as writing personally to the employee instead of in general, or sitting down with the individual to write and discuss, supported by the templates found in Mentor, can create significantly greater value. This puts more focus on how to develop in future customer meetings instead of documenting what has been done and what has not been done.

It's not really difficult to give feedback, but it requires realizing why it's being done and that the feedback is documented in a way that both employees and managers have access to it, agree with it and above all understand it. If we succeed in this, the organization will have higher quality in its processes as well as employees who feel seen, work goal-driven and constantly develop!

The importance of providing feedback doesn't just apply in selling organizations, in school, teachers need feedback on how they perform their lessons, in healthcare, employees need feedback on how they manage their patients, everyone needs feedback on how they conduct or participate in a meeting, or how they perform a part of production. The possibilities for developing employees in the daily processes are endless. And I promise – it provides development for the organization and creates commitment for real!

I think a big reason why you as a manager shy away from being part of the employee's workday and giving feedback is that it is perceived too personally. I fully understand this. That is why, when we have created Mentor, we have been so careful with the templates we have made for how the process should be done. What should a needs analysis at a customer meeting contain? How should an introduction to a lesson in school be to be optimal?

The time you spend setting up these processes will be returned several times over.

/ Pia Nilsson, Founder and CEO, HR2 Systems Mentor.