Death And Feedback: Why Only One Is Inevitable

All these celebrity deaths have got Jim Lusty thinking: isn't important to pay tribute to people while they are still kicking?

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All these celebrity deaths have got Jim Lusty thinking: isn't important to pay tribute to people while they are still kicking?


Death And Feedback: Why Only One Is Inevitable

All these celebrity deaths have got Jim Lusty thinking: isn't important to pay tribute to people while they are still kicking?

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Will all the celebrities who held my hand through my teenage years please stop dying! I’ve always assumed that Paul Daniels and Terry Wogan would be with me forever.

Kato from the Pink Panther, the Police chief from Police Academy, the dude from Blake 7…they're all woven into the neon polyester fabric of my 80’s memories. Even Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber from Die hard, gone!

Laugh out loud legends Victoria Wood and the Pringle jumper wearing maestro Ronnie Corbett. My air guitar buddy Prince, my fancy dress inspiration Bowie and then Muhammad Ali goes and delivers that final sucker punch!

Dying is a big part of life, I know. I’ve just Googled that 55 million people died last year, that’s 6,500 an hour. I guess my view on death is like the vast majority in that we behave as though death were no more than an unfounded rumour.

The recent cull of 80s icons has simply served to remind me that we’re all heading the same way…death is the one deadline we’re all working to! And a lot of us are working really really hard to get there! We’re so busy. It’s so easy to get caught in that hamster wheel of life where we start to prioritise the unimportant crap over life, friends, us.

Instead of just celebrating peoples lives once they've carked it, lets be mindful that it’s a good thing to remember the specialness that resides in us all on a more regular (when they’re sitting across the table from us…ideally alive) way.


End of a purple reign: It's worth paying tribute to people while they are still alive

A trait of many successful teams, cultures, families, relationships…is that they give regular feedback. Not managerial, once a year, 360 degree, HR generalised, manipulative, negative feedback (seem to still be harbouring some energy there) but daily, data driven feedback that focuses on the positive.

Feedback designed to make the other person feel great, that reminds them of why you appreciate them, that builds their confidence and self esteem.

Why is it that people (particularly men) find it so hard to say genuinely nice, meaningful, heartfelt things to each other. To share our unique insight into what we value and love about that other person.

Feedback has a bad reputation because of the way it is handled in business.

My clients tell me horror stories about having to wait a full year to know how they’re getting on at their high-pressure annual appraisal time: Painfully going through the evils of the anonymous 360 system or awkward conversations with bosses who tell them a few fluffy things they do well, quickly followed by a barrage of things they want to get off their chest.

It is years of this which has given the word ‘feedback’ a bad reputation, just like a brand we all hate having endured years of bad customer service.

Annual reviews not only disengage employees they also hit the bottom line: Management research company CEB found the average manager spends more than 200 hours a year on activities related to performance reviews. In a company of about 10,000 employees, they will be spending roughly $35 million a year to conduct reviews.

The lengthy process is part of the drain: Brain research shows that even a positive review can instill negativity gained from the process. Triggering disengagement and curbing our ability to grow and think creatively.

Performance Review

How not to conduct a performance review

However, ask most people individually whether feedback is useful and important, they will enthuse about the potential merits. It’s human nature to need to know how you’re doing. It is also vital to help us grow.

I once heard a speech from Scott Forstall, who headed up the first iPhone project at Apple. He talked about always recruiting people with a ‘growth mindset’ versus a ‘fixed mindset’. i.e. He wanted to hire people who would swing big, try things and learn quickly, rather than slick perfectionists.

So, if I could wave my magic wand the word ‘feedback’ would be re-branded, changing people’s perception so they glow with enthusiasm rather than grimace at the very prospect.

Last year, Accenture recently announced that it was getting rid of the annual performance review and replacing it with an ongoing open feedback system. With 330,000 staff this is a huge change. In the same year, Team Sky also put down much of its success, including recently winning the Tour de France, to a focus on continuous feedback.

The best creative leaders have an awareness of themselves and are constantly demanding feedback; what they did well and where they can grow.

It sends a strong message that you’re constantly looking to move forward and develop.

Here are some tips on creating a positive feedback culture; how to deliver feedback that avoids the shit sandwich and will genuinely help your people grow.


If people ‘own’ their feedback then the whole job is much easier. It means people feel in control and driving their own learning rather than ‘having’ to receive it as part of a HR initiative within the business. This takes a push to get going but once in place seems like business as usual.

At one of Upping Your Elvis’ media clients they are currently getting everybody in the business to demand 10 bits of feedback in a month. If everybody achieves this then the entire business will get an extra day off at Easter.


Feedback has a reputation of being arduous. Cull that and keep it speedy and after any meaningful interaction. At the end of a meeting, schedule in 5 minutes to ask ‘what was great in that session?’ and ‘what could be even better?’ That’s it.


I have been trained in about 5 different approaches to giving feedback that contain around 7 steps. Each of the steps seem important but it can make me sound a bit robotic, hence the feedback has less impact. Practice a lot, then it should feel like a conversation with not a hint of process.


Always get specifics rather than generalisations. If somebody says ‘you were really engaging’ ask what specifically you did that led them to believe you were engaging. Then the person receiving the feedback can learn from it and grow.


A lot of people react to feedback but there’s no need. You may get some feedback you don’t agree with. That’s fine. It’s just somebody else’s interpretation. So just use it if you wish. If you do it often you will be able to quickly process what is useful or not.

So call feedback what you want. But don’t let years of other people’s failings make you miss out on one of the most powerful things on the planet.

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Death And Feedback: Why Only One Is Inevitable

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