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Beyond Online Surveys: Bring the Human Conversation into the Future of Feedback

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

I regularly Google “future of feedback”—a phrase near and dear to my heart. I’ve been noticing changes in what people mean by the word feedback. I mostly get references to online feedback systems, customer surveys, employee attitude surveys, etc. A smaller and smaller number of hits have to do with verbal conversations between people. Last night, the first ten links that came up had to do with:

1. A phone app for asking for anonymous feedback at work

2. An online customer feedback system

3. Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM)

4. iFeedback as described in Wikipedia

5. Marshall Goldsmith’s (wonderful) “feedforward” concept

6. An employee attitude survey

7. Forms that can replace performance review

8. Spreading your customer feedback system throughout the company

9. Future of navigation systems on ships

10. Future of 360 degree feedback

While the emergence of better systems for capturing customer input about their experiences is empowering to us as we design and improve services and product offerings, I am concerned that the human connection is missing. Even as automated systems now enable individuals to collect performance feedback from co-workers, the message we’re sending is that personal dialogue between team members and managers is just too hard and needs to be replaced. Several articles about these new systems for collecting feedback say this exactly—that real live face-to-face feedback simply can’t be expected from leaders, because they are simply uncomfortable giving feedback.

My research confirms that people do avoid feedback and that it is difficult to get up the nerve to start it. But I’m absolutely sure that feedback conversations are possible, very possible. Leaders and co-workers can decide to think differently, get started, and quickly see the positivity of their feedback connections. In fact, the article below is about how feedback, done frequently and helpfully, delivers happiness!

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