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The Importance Of Feedback

By Kate | Permalink | No Comments | June 28th, 2007 | Trackback

feedback_icon.jpgWhat is it?
Feedback is some form of input on your work; it could come from supervisors, co-workers, or others you interact with. In some contexts it can be quite formal, but I think it can take many forms – it can be something as simple as a short verbal comment.

Why does it matter?
It seems pretty intuitive that receiving feedback gives a person a clearer idea of how well they are doing the work and how they might improve. Obviously in some cases, it is pretty straightforward if you’ve done a task or not, but in much work there is some room for choice in how or what you do. While I personally think volunteers need to be ready to do the work without needing a regular pat on the back, it is human nature to appreciate it when your work is acknowledged – and brief feedback is one way of showing this.

What’s so tricky about it?

Many organizations that seek volunteers and actually need them are in that position specifically because they are busy.

They may see providing feedback as hand-holding and just want the volunteers to get on with the work. It is also feasible that they are grateful for whatever help they can get and don’t feel comfortable telling someone how to improve…this is less than productive though, especially if the person shares the organization’s long-term goal and wants to get things done well.

What to do about it?

If you’re volunteering in order to gain experience, or know that you want clear feedback, be upfront about this. If you want something from the organization, it’s fair to let them know ahead of time. Also be prepared to ask specific questions. If you are genuinely open to the “to be improved” type of feedback, let them know, and be receptive if they give it. Realize that providing you with feedback will not be their main goal and you may get less than you’d like - but when you get it thank the giver and let them know it was useful.

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