Have you ever provided an opinion on a topic or contributed to a project and been unaware of what happened to the information? Have you ever felt like your opinion fell on deaf ears, or no one took the time to value your responses?
As engagement specialists we have a responsibility to treat the engagement process and participants with professionalism and courtesy, and this includes providing feedback at various stages of an engagement project.
Engagement is not just about seeking input, it is about sharing knowledge and ideas to help determine the best possible resolution or outcome. Providing feedback helps to strengthen the engagement process.
People invest valuable time and effort into having a say, and if they have no idea what the outcomes are or whether their opinion matters they will be unlikely to provide input again. They are also more likely to tell others not to be involved.
By incorporating feedback into your communication and engagement planning you can develop stronger stakeholder relationships and gain more valuable input in the long term. People will feel more connected to a project and be more willing to be open about their opinions if they think they have value.
Providing feedback might be as simple as sharing an update on your website or sending an email to your database with a quick rundown of the results and how you intend to use the information. You could provide more in-depth feedback in the form of a report or analysis, and show how you will apply this to develop better policies and procedures or move forward on a project.
Pointers to remember when developing your engagement program are as follows:
- Ensure that you include feedback as a key step in your strategic planning.
- Establish a two-way conversation and make people feel connected to the discussion.
- Work out what information you want to provide and the best way to achieve this (face-to-face, electronic, online).
- Give participants a reason to join in future conversations and build confidence in the process by thanking them for their opinions and making them feel valued.
- Assure participants that you have recognised their opinions as part of the process.
- Don’t feel that feedback has to be complex, in-depth or focus on everything. Even a little feedback is better than no feedback.