Permission based feedback for your team

KEEGAN LUITERS - SEPTEMBER 12, 2019

I first came across the term "Permission based marketing" via Seth Godin. It's a pretty straightforward concept. According to Seth:

"Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them."

Recently, I have been working with teams and organisations on how to develop a stronger feedback culture. There are many factors that go into that. I recently wondered what would happen if we aimed for Permission Based Feedback, which we could define -borrowing Seth’s definition – as

"Permission marketing based feedback is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them."

It's really not that big a leap. If, as I encourage people I am working with, we define feedback as information that helps improve performance, it makes Permission Based Feedback a pre-requisite. Why? Because feedback is only useful if it can be put to work (otherwise it's just information). If it can be put to use, but isn't received it's also not very useful. I often talk about how defensiveness is the #1 killer of effective feedback. That means that even if feedback is true, useful and applicable it still might not make a difference to performance because the receiver wasn't ready to receive it (either in general or from that particular source of feedback).

Feedback is more effective when the recipient is ready to receive it. Photo by  Philip Strong  on  Unsplash

Feedback is more effective when the recipient is ready to receive it. Photo by Philip Strong on Unsplash

It follows logically that having a culture of Permission Based Feedback makes a lot of sense. That is to say that we earn the right to give feedback - not simply because of our experience or our title.

So, how can we earn the right? There is no silver bullet for this and pretending to care about someone is definitely no substitute for actually caring about them! There is, however, a sequence of actions that we can all put into place in order to accelerate and role model permission for feedback. Specifically, it is:

1. Seeking out feedback better and more often

2. Receiving feedback better and more often (without becoming defensive!); and THEN

3. Providing feedback that improves performance and is able to be actioned.

Some questions for you to consider this week:

  1. Does your team have a culture of Permission Based Feedback?

  2. What can you do to earn the right to deliver better feedback across your teams?