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04 May 2010

Have Your Heard Your Internal Customers?

It is performance appraisal time. Most of the meetings rooms are occupied and few guys stare through to see whether the room is occupied. During this time, we see a lot of red faces - faces that are symbols of uncertainty and clueless. While we spend a lot of time in getting our customers' feedback, are we spending enough time in hearing what our internal customers (teammates) has to say about us and if you hear those feedback do you try to clarify things or put their feedback into actions.

During my three years of leading teams, I would say one key activity that I feel adding a lot of value to me is the feedback from my team (that people who report to you). Since you are doing business, (ok,  just for the sake of argument) eventually we need to send questionnaire to our customers and they give feedback based on the service we provide. Irrespective of your linking, you ought to receive and put an improvement plan. because your competitors do it. The next usual thing is receiving feedback from people above you. As a part of your performance appraisal, you must be rated by people whom you report to.

The only missing piece is the feedback from people who report to you. Those are the people who work closely with you and they know you very well. When you will react and how will you react. Are you pleasant to work with? What they feel about their learning and growth when they worked with you? Are you really adding value to them? How they see themselves if they continue to work with you for next few years? What is their perspective about you? What are the areas that you have to improve to yourself valuable and make their work interesting?

These are some of the questions that one can ask to drive towards a meaningful discussions. These are open ended questions and the answer to these questions will help you to find blind spot. Rather than asking, give be rating from one to four, the open ended questions should give a lot of inputs. More than external customers and your reporting chain up the hierarchy, I feel that a lot of valid concerns, inputs, feedback and suggestions can be received from the people who work closely with you. If you are collaborating with someone in informal setup (or informal teams), try to get their perspective as they will be very open in giving you a candid feedback.

Keep seeking feedback and keep correcting. It is a wonderful journey towards excellence.

Saying or writing this as a post is not a rocket science. Knowing how-to of receiving is not rocket science. But doing this wholeheartedly with an open mind is a rocket science.

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