Listening & The Five Stages of Grief

As a follow up to the Storming of Thunder Ridge, the charitable cycling event that wrapped up last weekend, I sent a survey to the registered riders. Nearly 30% returned the survey and the feedback has been enlightening.

(I’ll share the details in a future post)

However, something unexpected occurred. As the event director and I listened and reviewed the comments, we experienced something similar to the the Five Stages of Grief.

An Emotional Response

One of the comment trends was a criticism of the route markings:

The route markings & signage were too sparse. Several sections left you wondering if you were still on course. Not enough warning for upcoming turns. Finding the finish location was difficult. Riders shouldn’t be stressed trying to stay on course.

Here’s how our though process progressed…

Stage One: Denial – What? We did everything right! We painted multiple arrows before each turn. We painted arrows after turns as confirmation. Along the longer stretches of road, we painted arrows periodically to confirm riders were still on-course. Plus, we posted signs to supplement the painted road marketings. And, of course, we gave riders cue sheets with turn-by-turn directions. It couldn’t be us!

Stage Two: Anger – Are these riders clueless? Have they ever done a cycling event before? How could they miss such obvious route markings? Fine, we don’t need ’em next year anyway!

Stage Three: Bargaining – If we could just talk to those riders… Show ’em how well the course was marked. They’d clearly see that we did everything right.

Stage Four: Depression – We worked our asses off and we suck. The event was a failure. Let someone else do it next year…

Stage Five: Acceptance – Okay, clearly there’s a trend here. This is an opportunity to improve. We want to grow Storming of Thunder Ridge into a bigger and better event. Let’s engage those riders who had concerns about the route markings, find out what happened and learn how we could do better. Let’s also contact event organizers for other rides and find out how they do it.

Listening Is Hard

Wow, the marketing gurus didn’t say listening was going to be so emotionally taxing!

We ate up all the glowing comments that said we were heroes. But the negative feedback hurt. A lot.

As a next step, we will respond to those comments and invite our community to provide more direct feedback. Thankfully, we’ve gone through the grieving process and, now, are focused on learning what went wrong and how to prevent it next time.

I’ll share that in a post soon.

Please Share

Tell me about your experience listening to negative comments and feedback. How did you react?


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