This may never have happened to you, but occasionally I have workshops or seminars where I completely miss the mark with one or more attendees and as a result they give me very poor evaluations.Let me share the most recent example.
For the last four years I have had the privilege to present at the National Tactical Officers Association annual conference. I do a 2 hour breakout session during the vendor expo on Embrace the Suck and Dare to Be Great and an 8 hour Excellence in Training workshop later in the week. I just received the evaluations from the Excellence in Training workshop at the 2019 conference. There were seven people (about 25% of the attendees) who submitted online evaluations. Of the seven people three hated the class and four loved the class. There was no one in the middle. They either loved it or hated it. If they were number ratings on a 1 to 5 scale I would have received three ones and four fives.
I take all those poor evaluations seriously. I accept complete responsibility that on that day, for those officers, I completely missed the mark on both delivery and content and failed to meet their expectations. I take my responsibility as an instructor very seriously as I have made a commitment to both the conference organizers and the workshop attendees to give my best and provide great value.
It is easy to take very negative evaluations personally and feel like they are a personal attack. Even though there was at least one comment that could easily be taken as a personal attack, the frustration of those three attendees was that they felt their received little or no return on the investment of their time. If I take those negative evaluations personally, the tendency is to get defensive and come up with reasons why they are wrong. They are not wrong. They were asked for their opinion and evaluation on the training and they provided it. The ball is now in my court.
If I take the feedback personally and simply rant and rave and vent and rationalize nothing will change. I will not grow and the workshop will not improve. When I take that feedback seriously and professionally, I step back from my emotional response, examine the feedback through the lens of my personal core values of Curiosity, Commitment and Humility and ask, “What can I learn from those evaluations? Where did I let those people down? What can I do to enhance the delivery and content of the workshop at future conferences?” As a result of the reflection, introspection and action I will grow as a trainer and the workshop at the 2020 NTOA conference will be better as a result.
Am I proud of those negative evaluations? No. Did it hurt when I read them? Yes. Did it hurt my ego or my pride? No. It hurt because I let those people, and maybe others in the class who felt the same but did not complete an evaluation, down and I take that very seriously. I also let the conference organizers down and I take that seriously.
Will I be better as a result of those evaluations? Yes. What would I say to those people if I could speak with them? “Thank you for the feedback. I am sorry the workshop did not live up to your expectations. What could I have done to better serve you and provide value to you in that workshop? “
If I am not proud of those evaluations why did I write this post and share this with you? I share this in the hope that if you ever get those negative evaluations that you will remember this message and take that feedback seriously and professionally, not personally.
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