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Human Resources
May 15, 2016

Feedback Seeking Is The Third Dimension Of Learning Agility

Sponsored Content provided by Dave Hoff - Chief Operating Officer and Executive VP of Leadership Development, EASI Consult

For my last few Insights, I’ve written about the work that my firm, EASI·Consult, has done on the topic of learning agility with Warner Burke, Ph.D., a professor and researcher at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Burke has created and validated a test that measures learning agility, which is appropriately called the Burke Learning Agility Inventory (Burke LAI). For those of you who are new to the topic, learning agility is seen as being closely related to leadership potential. There are nine dimensions to the Burke LAI: 

  1. Reflecting
  2. Experimenting
  3. Performance Risk Taking
  4. Interpersonal Risk Taking
  5. Collaborating
  6. Information Gathering
  7. Flexibility
  8. Speed
  9. Feedback Seeking
When I started this series, I promised to explain more about each of the nine dimensions, providing a look at what each looks like in situations at work and outside of work.
In this Insights, I’m going to address feedback seeking. Burke defines feedback seeking as asking others for feedback on one’s ideas and overall performance.
Here’s an example of feedback seeking from David McCullough’s book, The Wright Brothers.

Orville is conducting a series of test flights from Fort Myer, Virginia, which is outside Washington, D.C. The plane crashes and he is badly hurt. Orville is trying to understand the cause of the crash.

"Meanwhile the army’s Aeronautical Board had begun a formal investigation to determine the cause of the crash. 'Orville thinks that the propeller caught in one of the wires connecting the tail to the main part,' Katharine wrote. (Katharine is Katharine Wright Haskell, the sister of Orville and Wilbur.) "That also gave a pull on the wings and upset the machine.

"As would eventually be determined, Orville was correct. One of the blades on the right propeller had cracked; the propeller began to vibrate; the vibration tore loose a stay wire, which wrapped around the blade, and the broken blade had flown off into the air. Because the stay wire had swerved to brace the rear rudders, they began swerving this way and that and the machine went out of control.”

The book then continues:

“Charlie Taylor and Charlie Furnas – ‘the two Charlies’ as they had become known as Fort Myer – came to the hospital to show Orville the piece of the propeller blade than had broken away."

Now back to learning agility and feedback seeking. I’m going to take you through a fictional example of feedback seeking that involves Rose, a hospital nurse. In this first example Rose does her job, unaware that there are things she is doing and not doing that her patients do not like. Her patients are forming impressions of the hospital based on the person with whom they have the most contact. Rose, their attending nurse, could have demonstrated feedback seeking and it could have improved her performance. In my first example, she did nothing in the area of feedback seeking.
Rose is a nurse at a small hospital that specializes in knee, hip and shoulder replacements. While Rose is very pleasant to her patients while she is with them, her follow up on requests made by her patients is sporadic. She forgets to bring drinking water when requested or must be reminded several times. Frustrated, her patients ask other hospital staff to provide items Rose should be handling.
In our second example, Rose meets with her supervisor after attending a training program where she received feedback on her learning agility based on the Burke LAI.
Rose’s lowest score on the test is in the area of Feedback Seeking. She discusses the test results with her supervisor the next day. The supervisor asks, “Is the score you got on Feedback Seeking accurate? If not, why not? If so, what opportunities can you create in your current role where you can seek patient feedback? Try to be specific.” Rose remembers a few comments from a patient about an unfulfilled request. Her supervisor suggests that this may be an opportunity where Rose could become more effective. The supervisor asks what she might do. Rose says, “I could ask each of my patients in the middle of my shift what I was doing well and what I could do better.” I could then try to address the items the patient mentioned over the rest of the shift.
This is an example of feedback seeking and how Rose can use it to grow in her work as a hospital attending nurse.
EASI•Consult® works with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and mid-sized corporations to provide customized Talent Management solutions. EASI•Consult’s specialties include leadership assessment, online pre-employment testing, survey research, competency modeling, leadership development, executive coaching, 360-degree feedback, online structured interviews, and EEO hiring compliance. The company is a leader in the field of providing accurate information about people through professional assessment. To learn more about EASI•Consult, visit, email [email protected] or call 800.922.EASI.

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