Having worked in academia and in organisational development in all sectors of the NHS for many years I (Mirren) am very familiar with giving feedback. There are recommended techniques and formulas. For example, Pendleton’s rules focus on the appraisee:
• ensure that she is ready to receive feedback;
• ask for her observations first before you share yours;
• focus on what has gone well;
• rather than count her faults, jointly identify and agree areas for improvement.
That’s all fine and well. I’ve been appraised many times and been handled both gently and harshly. One boss who didn’t like me airing my views in an open forum because they differed from his, almost reduced me to tears when he asked for ‘a quiet word’.
Recently, however, I’ve experienced feedback of a different kind. Not about the quality of my work, or my level of understanding or development. More about how I look and sound.
Jones and I agreed we needed some more recent photographs. So it started with a professional photo-shoot. John from Alyth Photography came to the house, brought a flattering background cloth, positioned me so that my best side was apparently on-show and taught me to stand with my body at an angle and my face to the front to minimise my width! I can’t fault his work but I was shocked at the final result. Was that matronly woman really me? Great photo! everyone said. Shows that even positive feedback can hurt!
Kirkmichael Summer Festival hosted a ‘Meet the Author event’ last month.
We six (Angela Jeffs, Joan Lennon, Archie McBrain, Elaine Mutch, Christine Findlay and I) huddled together for a group photo. ‘Stand there and block that light from the window Marion, would you please?’ And it was a big window!
Then there’s the voice. The Scottish NHS24 which provides advice and medical help when your local surgery is closed changed its telephone number. That meant my updating the automated answering machine message. No easy task in this technological age. Four attempts later and I was ready to listen to and approve the final recording. ‘I knew it was you the minute I heard it’, said one regular patient the following morning. Oh really? That patronising sing-song voice?
Shona Whyte of Heartland FM summed it up when she interviewed me recently about collaborative writing. You’ve got a great face for radio.
Or maybe she meant ‘voice’?!
Jones and I are currently scratching our heads to devise a short snappy phrase, a ‘handle’ for Mirren Jones. Running around with her horses all day means she is still a size 10, but you can be assured that Little and Large will not be it. Forget all this new knowledge about looks and voice. I think I’ll focus on our skills instead!
All suggestions for the six-word biography (the handle) welcome. Remember the rules of feedback – please!