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Published On: Tue, Apr 29th, 2014

Wanted: A culture of feedback

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By Bobby Uddoh

One hindrance in our effort to build a developed Nigeria is lack of feedback culture. Let me point out that culture is more than food, clothing, music, language, etc. If we want to build a better Nigeria, we the must change the prevailing culture. Lack of feedback is a key element of that culture and one that I have observed for a long time but noted its dominating influence just of recent.

Let’s look at some of the feedback that is lacking: It is common for most Nigerians to enjoy a good experience, acknowledge it but yet not provide feedback to the operators or managers of that experience. We may think it is not a big deal but in a nation where bad experiences are common, it takes a lot of work to ensure people are given a good experience. It, therefore, would be critical to let the providers of the good experience know through feedback in order for them to gain encouragement to sustain the effort and to even do better.

The next time you have a good experience, write to the management of the organisation or write to the person who gave you the experience to commend their effort. Where possible, share such experiences on Social Media platforms to give coverage to such people and organisation. It will help reduce the high level of negativity in our nation.

Feedback on a bad experience: This one is a big problem for most of us. We would rather go about telling everyone about our bad experience with a person, company or government agency. The only one we wouldn’t tell is the one who gave us the bad experience. In some instances, we will become enraged and express our anger at the point of the bad experience but so few would go to the critical point of providing a proper feedback. We carry a fixed mindset that says, “They will never change.”

Sometimes, we face circumstances beyond our control (like unexpected traffic congestion) but we can call and state the true situation and suggest alternatives. It is not right to expect that someone will wait for hours without any feedback from us. We have done this for way too long but it is not acceptable because it is lawlessness. Even after a scheduled appointment, we should have a culture of providing feedback immediately after and this is separate from the action points generated at the meeting.

Feedback before an action: It is common for us Nigerians to sit in a meeting and have the opportunity to provide feedback but we will keep silent. Once the meeting is over, we start murmur among ourselves but not before the decision makers. We shouldn’t wait until the meeting objective has been undertaken and usually with little or no success, before we provide feedback. It is common to hear reasons why we thought it would fail. Wouldn’t it have been better to provide this at the start to provide an opportunity to change approach?

What then? The culture of feedback is essential for development and as such we must exploit all the available channels when providing feedback. This is a critical way of life (culture) in developed nations and we too can benefit from it. When I ran a holiday business (Akwa Holidays), one of my biggest challenges was getting feedback from clients on their holidays (the flight, hotel, transfer, meals, tours, etc.). Yet, my service to future clients and my relationship with current operators was largely dependent on this feedback.

Developing the culture of feedback would help close the gap between citizens and government, enabling increased citizen participation in governance. We all agree this will increase accountability from our government at all levels and strengthen our democracy. I reiterate the point made earlier: With no feedback provided, there is no opportunity for change. If we really desire a change from our underdevelopment to a developed Nigeria, we must develop the culture of providing feedback. Starting now, what feedback do you have on this article?

Bobby Udoh is reachable on bobbyudoh.com

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