Feedback Man vs Machine

I don't know when it happened, but I can guess. At some point 360 feedback became a chore. The word 360 became ugly instead of exciting. Feedback became review, became evaluation, became appraisal. Both giving and receiving became painful.

I blame computers, personally, or rather, I blame people incorrectly using computers. You see, somehow 360 reports became tick-box exercises. You get an automated email to an online survey. You tick 20-30 boxes (sometimes many, many more), and somewhere across the office, one of your feckless colleagues gets an automated email with an automated report full of automated charts. If she's really unlucky, your colleague will also receive the gift of a 1-1 sit down with a boss who spouts the auto-generated report like a new canon of scripture. (Of course her bonus will be adjusted accordingly.)

Surely, this is the antithesis of what FEEDBACK is. The opposite of how it's supposed to be.

The problem is, we have automated everything, even the feedback itself. We parsed the feedback to tick boxes because when we define the terms, we can compare and sort the data. So the whole process dumbed down and removed itself from personal interaction. We lost the nuance, the art, the meaning. Our partner in feedback became an autistic savant.

We need remember why we are doing this. We need to claim back the  humanity of the process and the dignity in the outcome. Technology can still be involved, but we must be much smarter about where technology is involved and where people are involved. Humans are designed to give feedback through conversation. We tend to deeply care about each other. That's what makes us strong. It's also what makes the feedback process hard: it's the caring about others that makes it painful, not the lack of care.

Instead of removing ourselves from the feedback process, farming it out to binary-based bots, we need to pull it in closer and get more involved. We should have caring conversations about each other. Developmental conversations. Both directly and indirectly. It's natural. It's wonderful. It's human.