Seeking feedback from our manager and colleagues is an important ingredient in our career and professional development. Feedback can be a very powerful tool in communicating an employee’s existing strengths as well as identifying areas for future development. Giving effective feedback is just as important as receiving feedback effectively. While, as managers, we often provide helpful feedback to our team during career discussions, it’s important to ask for feedback as well.
Fear of feedback
Most individuals fear receiving feedback as they fear criticism. As stated in this HBR article:
"Fears and assumptions about feedback often manifest themselves in psychologically maladaptive behaviors such as procrastination, denial, brooding, jealousy, and self-sabotage. But there’s hope. Those who learn to adapt to feedback can free themselves from old patterns. They can learn to acknowledge negative emotions, constructively reframe fear and criticism, develop realistic goals, create support systems, and reward themselves for achievements along the way."
Individuals should strive to learn how their actions impact their surroundings, and develop an awareness of the ever changing environment. Feedback provides opportunity to access such information and lack of access could hinder the individual’s ability to grow and adapt.
Seeking feedback is also validating. In addition to validation, feedback provides information about differences between self perceptions and external ones. Typically, this type of feedback falls into three categories:
1. Blind spots - external perceptions that you were unaware of
2. Overuse - when you are over-delivering on your strengths, making them more of a weakness
3. Interpretation – the nuances in delivery vs. perception
How to go about receiving feedback?
Listen – Listen intently to the person giving you feedback. You can gather more information if you are concentrating on listening and understanding rather than being defensive and focusing on your response. Stay attentive; do not look distracted and bored. Your body language could send a negative signal to the person taking the time to give you feedback. Show that you value their thoughts and insights.
Be open – Be receptive to new ideas that may be presented during the conversation. Feedback sessions give you an opportunity to learn and look at things with a new lens – a different perspective.
Understand and ask questions – Understand what is being said and ask questions so you can be clear to yourself and the other person. Listen actively by repeating key points so that you know you have interpreted the feedback correctly.
Reflect and follow-up – Reflect on the feedback and assess your performance. In case you are not in agreement with the feedback given to you, seek a second meeting with the person or another opinion from a third person.
Critical feedback is important to improve your skills and grow professionally. As helpfully suggested in this article– Find the coaching in criticism.
Your growth depends on your ability to pull value from criticism in spite of your natural responses and on your willingness to seek out even more advice and coaching from bosses, peers, and subordinates. They may be good or bad at providing it, or they may have little time for it—but you are the most important factor in your own development. If you’re determined to learn from whatever feedback you get, no one can stop you.
For a good measure of your effectiveness, try a 360 degree assessment, to receive feedback on predetermined or custom criteria from not just your superiors, but also your peers and juniors. Contact Felix for more information on our helpful 360 tools and programs to enhance your team and organization’s performance.