Seed World

How You Ask for Feedback Determines What you Get

Gro Alliance

A third-generation seedsman, Jim Schweigert grew up in the family seed business and was exposed to industry issues at an early age. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the University of Minnesota and worked for corporate public relations firms in Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta before joining the family business full time in 2003. He has since been active in the American Seed Trade Association, the Independent Professional Seed Association and earned his master’s in seed technology and business from Iowa State University. As president, Schweigert manages client contracts and crop planning, as well as business development and new market opportunities. His unique background and experience make him one of the seed industry’s leaders in innovation. As such, he was honored as Seed World’s 2009 Future Giant and currently serves as chair of the board of directors for Seed Programs International.

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One of my favorite parts of travel is getting to try new restaurants and unique menu items. The world of food is so diverse and good restaurants give the guest great food and a memorable experience. 

At some point in almost every meal, the waiter stops by to ask how everything was cooked and if it tastes good. How do guests answer this question?

Think back to your last few restaurant meals. Did you answer honestly? It’s easy when the food is incredible and exceeds your expectations, but what about the overcooked steak, under-seasoned sides or salad drowning in dressing? It’s likely that you said it was good…or just nodded because you had just taken a big bite. (I swear that they try to time the question for the exact moment in which your mouth is most full!)

My point is that the setting and person asking are not well designed for an honest answer. You know how much work the chef put into the meal and you sure don’t want to appear rude or ungrateful. Do you want to be “that person” who sends back a meal and looks like a bit of a snob? Nope. You give the waiter the feedback expected and continue with dinner.

When your friends ask you for a recommendation, however, is when your true thoughts fly! 

Companies fall into this same trap. It might happen at the all-employee meeting, the sales kickoff or during an employee review. In these critical moments folks are more likely to feel pressured into giving the answer expected versus offering their true feelings. 

The lesson for me in this comparison is that I would much rather hear how someone describes the meal to their friends versus the waiter.

Think about how you’re asking for feedback and in what setting. Create time and space for the person answering to give their true opinions. Then you will really know if they like what you offer or if they’re just giving lip service.