Feedback is the food of champions…

Having done an interview during a Sunday Church service with Zimbabwe Cricket legend Henry Olanga, here’s some “feedback” I received anonomously in the week following through our regular Sunday Church service evaluations:

“I was speaking to 3 people on Sunday regarding Henry’s testimony and they really enjoyed it however felt like Wolfi spoke for most of it and didn’t really give Henry a chance to say much and felt it has happened before with Wolfi when he interview’s people.”


“Really enjoyed Henry Olanga and enjoyed him singing, but did feel the interviewer was not great and made quite a few mistakes which detracted from the interview.”


Here are some of my thoughts on “feedback”:  Once upon a time I was an officer in the South African Navy (1984, a year after I recieved Christ as my Saviour and Lord).  Rank plays a huge role in the military, and you had to mind what you said to those of higher rank than you. This often hindered the real issues to come to the attention of the officers, and therefore hindered their leadership.  There is a military term: “PERMISSION TO SPEAK FREELY, SIR” which anyone of lower rank could request of someone of higher rank, in order to say things which needed to be said, but “off the record.”  Where this was allowed into the culture, it paid huge dividends for morale and efficiency.

Over the past year at EN London we have been on a journey to try to create a new culture of feedback and “healthy conflict” in our church office (We have nearly 30 staff doing all sorts of things).  This included having “Facing-the-brutal-facts-without-loosing-faith”sessions where we gave (and got) a very honest assessment of how we were really doing in all areas of our church and staff life. (Quite an eye-opener for a leader!)

We also had some staff training on what it takes to have a “healthy culture of conflict” in order to work together without all the baggage that usually gets dragged along. The key here was TRUST.  I can only say that all this has helped us (and me personally) hugely, and the feedback I am getting is that its now a much better place to work…and I think we are getting a lot more done…and a lot more effectively.

Back to my interview feedback. Its never easy recieving “constructive critical” feedback. In this case I though the interview had gone well, but in thinking about it I realised that I have NEVER done anything deliberate to prepare/equip myself to do these kinds of interviews, even though I do them quite often. My response was to do some research on what it takes to do great interviews, and to prepare myself much more. I had interviews lined up for the next two Sundays after that, and I am pleased to say that I received feedback that there has been a significant improvement.

Who gives you feedback?  If you are a leader, have you created a true healthy “culture of conflict” around you, or will you be the last to know that the ship is sinking? Permission to speak freely SIR!

2 thoughts on “Feedback is the food of champions…

  1. One of the things I realised fairly recently about Jesus is just how often he came across people, and instead of – like many of us do – just letting it slide, he’d ask “What were you talking about?” or “What do you think that parable meant then?”. As such, his ministry was marked by offering constructive criticism to everyone!

    Also, in my own experience, I’m aware that the times I’ve grown the quickest, and most positively have been when someone has pointed out what I could improve and so given me something to work towards… rather than me relying entirely on criticising myself, which is far more likely to lead to a poor self-image than when someone says “that was great, but how’s about trying THIS!”.

    … anyway, nice post – and (for the record) I quite enjoyed the interview you did with Henry 🙂


    PS: You perhaps are already aware of this, but you can set up Facebook to automatically import posts from ‘Wolfi’s View’: Log into Facebook, go to ‘Notes’, select the ‘Import Notes’ feature and paste the URL: into it…

  2. weckleben

    Thanks for the tip Rich…I need all the help I can get, so keep the tips coming. This blog should now feed to my facebook site for all you FB friends…

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