Have you ever bought something and then been told by the cashier that you’ve been selected to complete a survey about your customer service experience? I get these surveys on the bottoms of my receipts all the time. Though I rarely, if ever, complete them.
Two weeks ago I purchased a new car. After spending what seemed like a lifetime at the car dealership negotiating a price that I hoped was reasonable, I was finally ready to sign mountains of paperwork. My salesman, Rick, shook my hand and said “It was great working with you today, in a few days you’ll get a survey and we ask that you answer each question by saying you’re completely satisfied.” I smiled and said, “Oh, okay.” Rick walked away to tell the finance department that I was ready to sign more paperwork. As I waited I couldn’t help by replay his words in my mind. “Answer each question saying you’re completely satisfied?” I was shocked, why would anyone ever tell someone what to mark on a survey?
Soon I walked into the next office to sign more papers. There, I was offered all kinds of extra insurance and warranty plans that I didn’t really need. I kindly listened to all of the sales pitches and signed papers again. When it was finally time to leave, the nice lady in this second office said, “I want to remind you that you’ll be getting a survey in a few days. Please be sure to click the box all the way to the left to indicate that you’re completely satisfied with your experience.” At this point, I had been at the car dealership for 5 hours, I wanted to ask her why she felt she needed to tell me how to rate my experience. But, instead, I said, “Okay, thank you so much for all of your help.” A few days later when I played a voice message on my phone. It was from the dealership. This time a person was calling to check to see how I was enjoying my car. At the end of the message he said, “And remember to check completely satisfied when you get the survey about your service.”
What does feedback mean to you? Sure, it’s great to receive positive feedback. But, whether the feedback we receive is positive or negative isn’t what matters. What really matters is what we do with the feedback. Do we just pretend like everyone is “completely satisfied” all the time? Or, do we accept honest feedback with an open mind and growth mindset? Do we want to grow or do we want to maintain the status quo?
Accepting feedback, especially critical feedback, isn’t always easy. When we are open to feedback we have to be prepared to make changes, do more work and accept that our ideas are not perfect. But, think about what things would be like if we simply asked everyone to tell us they were “completely satisfied”. Where would we be personally and professionally? What opportunities would we have missed?
On our journey to ELITE, feedback is crucial. We don’t ever really want to be satisfied or even “completely satisfied”. Instead we want to constantly be moving forward. As Tim Kight says, "We must strive to be better today than we were yesterday and we must be better tomorrow than we were today." The feedback we receive along the way is what will continue to propel us forward.
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.