It is only a small book, quite easy to read and study. The overall theme is that people learn and develop by having the right sort of experiences with appropriate feedback. It is a managers job to make sure that happens for their staff.
Will it make a difference?
Mark Hadley: To pick out one thing, it emphasised that staff need encouragement to generate their own feedback. I'll do this. You learn by trying something new that stretches you. It won't be perfect, but you develop by appreciating what went well and what could be improved. I find that feedback hard to give. Just saying "well done" may be appreciated but is not actually very constructive. While negative feedback is unpredictable and can be demotivating. So for staff to critically evaluate their challenges is clearly the best way forward. It should not be too much of a surprise because it is what we tell, and need, our undergraduates to do as they learn to be physicists.
Ayesha Rahman: I joined the ‘book club’ half way through from Chapter 5. I found the communication aspects the most useful and relevant. In particular:
- ‘Adult:Adult Interactions’ to create a more open and honest culture
- ‘Learning Conversations’: moving from ‘debate to dialogue’ and from ‘blame to contribution’
Kayleigh Lampard: I found the ‘Giving, generating and gathering feedback’ the most useful and interesting chapter, as I could relate it back to previous work experiences in schools and how I feel myself when receiving feedback. Thompson says ‘Feedback releases potential’. I enjoyed the group discussion about feedback and how different people perceive feedback as positive or negative (which often depends on their perception of past experiences). We discussed how feedback can be used as development tool and that people can be encouraged to come up with their own feedback, with open questions. For example how would you rate the success of that project out of 10? How could you make it a 10 if you were to repeat that project in the future? This therefore cannot be categorised as either positive or negative feedback from others, as you are generating your own feedback and progression plan.
Sarah Parkin: I enjoyed the book ‘Growing People’ and loved the unbiased position of the author. He gave lots of ideas and methodologies to consider when managing people.
I particularly liked the chapter focused on ‘Conversations that make a difference,’ it helped me look at the approach I have in conversations and my role, the individual’s role and the eventual outcome. The quote by Meg Wheatley’ When I’m in conversation, I try to maintain curiosity by reminding myself that everyone has something to teach me. When they’re saying things I disagree with, or have never thought about, or that I consider foolish or wrong, I silently remind myself that they have something to teach me. Somehow this little reminder helps me to be more attentive and les judgemental. It helps me to stay open, rather than shut them out’ (Wheatley, 2002).