9 Ways to Connect With Your Community
It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Roger Connors and Tom Smith – Enjoy!
Feeling out of touch with your business community? No connection, wrangling tough relationships, regularly brokering messy disagreements? Just how does a business owner or manager get back in touch and move the needle on even the most stubborn issues?
With consistent, well-practiced feedback.
Feedback is a principle that, if practiced, is the key to overcoming blind spots and achieving improved results in all aspects of your life—both personal and professional. Individually, with teams, and even entire communities and organizations.
The key: You just have to ask for it.
But before you gather your team or blindly ask what others think of you (highly risky without a bit of practice, by the way), consider these 9 proven tips that will help you get your head right—so you can solicit, respond to, and use feedback to succeed in business.
- Go after it. Feedback doesn’t just magically happen with the wave of a wand. You have to be proactive and make it happen. Stay connected with customers or prospects by seeking feedback even when you believe things are going great—sometimes what you think isn’t what is actually happening.
- Have courage. Seeking constructive feedback can be scary. Remember, whoever you’re asking feedback from is already thinking about your performance; you’re just hearing what they already believe.
- Welcome awkwardness. Remember that almost everyone fears offering feedback about as much as they fear asking for it. People worry it will backfire, and they value their job or relationship over saying anything—which is why momentum stalls in the first place. Revel in the discomfort and seek feedback anyway.
- Be convincing. Assure your audience, customers, even your employees that you really do want to know what they think. They need to know there won’t be any blowback from you if they honestly tell you how they see it.
- Get positive. Though it might be hard to believe, it’s easier for people to offer positive rather than negative feedback. You have to ask for constructive feedback. Try “What can we do better?” instead of “What are we doing wrong?”
- Listen. After asking for feedback, you need to do the hard part—listen. Listening can be difficult, but it is one of the most meaningful steps of exchanging feedback, and it is important that you listen to everything. Then act on what you hear that makes sense.
- Be grateful. Don’t let constructive feedback, no matter how unpleasant, skew your view of the person who’s giving valuable input as to how you can improve your processes. Remember: their insight could help improve performance or efficiency. Express sincere gratitude for their willingness to share in the first place (see tip #2, courage).
- Make it a habit. Make getting feedback a habit, not a one-time thing. Ask if it’s okay to follow up, even suggesting you meet again for a reality check just to keep yourself in line.
- Be nice. Finally, be nice to yourself and others. You can’t make any important changes overnight.
Right out of the gate you might want to select someone you’re comfortable with, then get started by simply asking, “What feedback do you have for me?” You might need to tag it with some context; like “How do you think we could have improved this product?” or “What improvements would you like to see in your campaign?” Once you’ve listened, don’t impulsively respond with a long defensive response. Graciously and professionally say, “Thanks for the feedback. We really appreciate it, and want to do anything we can to make your experience with our company better.” Your gratitude will signal you aren’t defensive (even if you really are) and that you are happy they took the time to share their opinion.
Roger Connors and Tom Smith are co-authors of a new book, The Wisdom of Oz: Using Personal Accountability to Succeed in Everything You Do (September 2014, www.thewisdomofozbook.com). They are multiple New York Times Bestselling authors and innovators of the most extensive body of knowledge on workplace accountability ever written. Their firm, Partners In Leadership (www.partnersinleadership.com), helps management teams facilitate large-scale cultural transition through proven methodologies, and has helped clients produce billions of dollars in improved profitability and shareholder value.