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Daphne Thissen, Director of Thissen Consulting

When reviewing our own personal leadership styles, we often look to those who we lead for feedback. Many companies carry out internal appraisals for team members with the opportunity to provide feedback on their manager being a part of this. It provides an open and safe space for honest feedback to be given in order to help the development of the manager which also helps the individual to progress.

Managers are providing feedback on the wider team and the wider team can provide feedback on the manager but what about the client’s opinion?

Many business leaders are missing a trick when it comes to personal development by not seeking client feedback. Progression opportunities aren’t being fully explored and business is potentially being lost.

We all like to think that our clients are getting the best version of ourselves, and our teams. The versions that are performing at our peak and delivering the best results. However, without asking for this feedback, many businesses are missing opportunities for staff development and for leaders within the business to become better managers. Not only this, but businesses are also missing potentially profitable work by not meeting the client’s real requirements that go beyond just the delivery of the work.

By bringing in a third-party perspective as part of project reviews, the process of obtaining client feedback becomes more open and transparent. It provides the safe space for clients to give honest feedback. The review I am referring to is much more than an online questionnaire with tick box answers. Instead, it is essential that a review really provides the platform for feedback to be shared and a full 360 review is taken. This includes everything from the project delivery through to the individual team members working on every stage the project.

Whilst there is no doubt that internal reviews and appraisals for projects, and individuals, are beneficial. External opinions such as those of a client, undoubtedly add an extra level of insight into your business. An outsiders view on how a team performs is not only a reflection of the team, but of the person managing the team too.

This feedback helps the development of every member of the team as the outside view helps to analyse the strengths of the individual so as a leader, you can play to these to help accelerate the business. In the same vein, it also helps identify any weaknesses and areas for improvement so suitable training can be provided to help overcome these.

In addition to this, having the perspective of another manager can be very insightful and a very positive learning experience for team members on all levels within the business. Often in managerial positions themselves, the client can provide feedback on team members from a managerial point of view and a fresh pair of eyes never hurts. When we are so busy doing the ‘doing’ within our businesses and focusing on the development of our team, it can be easy for leaders to neglect their own development. Client feedback helps to put a leader in the spotlight and gives a gentle nudge for focus on this development.

Client feedback on team members also helps to ensure the partnership is a profitable one. By knowing what your clients need and want, informed strategic decisions can be made in terms of projects, team training and of course team members. Providing clients with the opportunity to provide honest feedback gives managers the chance to move team members who may not be a good fit with the client onto a different account and do so in a positive way that doesn’t result in a lost partnership.

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