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Feedback – can destruct or construct

Feedback: Opinion not Fact

When you give feedback on training and when you receive it, remember this:

Feedback is a critical component of training.  It can give you insight into how you are perceived.  But it is important to keep it in perspective.  It’s an opinion, not a fact.

Today I received feedback from a group of 9 participants.  4 participants gave wildly fantastic feedback and one of them sent a follow up email cc’ing in their boss saying how valuable the training was and 4 gave positive feedback and 1 person effectively tore my training into pieces.  How could this be?  Given that I feel I have a responsibility to everyone in the room I examined this and followed up.

Firstly, their written feedback said that they knew this information, they weren’t offered RPL or assessment only pathway.  I followed up with the RTO who I was contracting for – was this person offered RPL or assessment only pathway?  No one could tell me.  Did this person receive a course outline of what would be covered?  No one could tell me.

So, I ring the participant who gave the feedback who was happy to talk with me.  I apologized on behalf of the RTO I was contracting for.  I then ask the participant to tell me about the experience that led to this feedback.

In short, the participant said that it felt disorganized getting enrolled into the course, getting the qualification issued after the course, the assessments were irrelevant, and the information was known therefore attending the course was a waste of time.  I asked the participant if they knew the course content prior to coming to the course and the response was “sort of”.

We then proceeded to training delivery.  The training delivery was a bit slow because the participant had to put up with slower people in the group.    I asked if this was fair given that I am there to include everyone and yes, it was fair it was just annoying.  But also stated that I clearly knew my stuff and that one or two things that weren’t known by the participant were learnt.

However, the participant also commented that a certain activity was irrelevant and when I consulted that Performance Criteria and Assessment Conditions, I could concede that the participant was correct on that point.  The participant was asked how that could be better evidence and that will be incorporated in continuous improvement.

In this instance, this feedback could have been avoided by:

  • The RTO having a good enrolment process and having their RPL options more clearly identifiable.
  • Clearly communicated processes of issuing qualifications and statements of attainment
  • And the feedback about the training, being about the training and grouping all the frustrations together.

Feedback can be constructive and destructive.  Be as detached as possible from feedback.   Review it, consider it objectively and does it make sense to you. If not and you able to contact the participant, ask more questions.

To someone new to training it can be confidence destroying.  To an experienced trainer it is merely information for review and revision if required which is continuous improvement.


Natasha Brown is a trainer, business coach & mentor – she operates Criterion Training – and more info can be found at

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