As the end of our Living Greener pilot program, Summer Works, approaches, I’ve been contemplating how to better our life skills classes in the future. I believe that one of the most fundamental values a program can establish is a one of continuous improvement. What better way to uphold this value than to receive feedback straight from the source? The participants of Summer Works contributed their ideas via survey at the halfway point of the program, and they will be asked to do so again in two weeks when the program is over. They were asked to rate each aspect of the program, as well as answer some open-ended questions about what they liked and disliked.
The mid-way survey was my first experience receiving feedback on a program I helped to develop. It’s easy to obtain feedback, but what the heck do I do with it now? Below, I have compiled a list of what I learned from this experience:
1. Feedback helps those providing it feel valued. It was pretty obvious that our participants appreciated being asked to provide their opinion. I think the real kicker was knowing that their responses were important to the program leaders and would directly lead to change for future cohorts.
2. Feedback identifies the positive and negative. I’ll be honest. I had a preconceived notion that the results of the survey would lean more towards the negative and less toward the positive. I was wrong. The participants helped to identify the areas of our operation that need attention or corrective action, in addition to those that are functioning well and need to be sustained.
3. Feedback opens the door for discussion. The formality of the feedback survey gave our participants a voice. It assisted in providing an environment in which all participants openly express informal feedback, reflecting and asking questions about solutions.
The best part is that all three of these lessons can be transferred into any professional setting. Universally, feedback can be used to cultivate learning opportunities, increase an operation’s ability to address gaps in services, and ultimately help to achieve operational goals. Now that I know the true value of feedback, I intend to continually incorporate it into my professional life.