Receiving feedback can feel like a gift, or feel like a hard slap in the face, can’t it?
So I have a lovely neighbor who is full of love and light. When she sees me, she always finds the positive to report on.
“I love to see you pounding away on the pavement.” she compliments.
“Did you see how slowly I am going? I never make it to a fast jog like you.” I retort
“Yes, but you are out here and every motion you make is a positive one.” she replies.
Likewise, I have another neighbor who also notices both my actions and inactions.
“You have trash all over the yard. Looks like you left the recycling out on a windy day again.”
I am thinking, “While you were talking, you could have picked up a piece or two.”
And as much as I don’t always appreciate her comments, she is the one who alerted me that we had lost a shingle, and she is the first to let me know when our dog has taken another unaccompanied walk.
Feedback at work is the same. Sometimes it’s just the encouragement you need, sometimes it’s something you already knew and sometimes it’s a blind spot that you aren’t excited about, but nevertheless, you needed to hear it.
Feedback at work is one lense into how others perceive you. It can also give you some ideas to help you plan your own development and that feedback can help you reach your full potential.
Tips for effectively receiving feedback:
- Take long, deep breathes; they are free, take as many as you can.
- Listen carefully – paraphrase to make sure you heard the message correctly. This also demonstrates to the other person that you are sincere in wanting to hear his or her feedback.
- Ask for examples – direct the conversation by saying, “Tell me more” or “What have I specifically done to make you feel that way?”
- Acknowledge – you don’t have to agree or disagree with the person. It’s appropriate to recognize the other person’s input by saying “You’ve given me something to think about.”
- Think objectively – evaluate the feedback. Ask yourself if the feedback is valid and important. Have you heard it from someone else? Are the person’s standards and expectations valid?
- Think about what you are going to do with the feedback – you don’t have to act upon the feedback right away. Spend some time thinking about the feedback and then determine what action, if any, you wish to take.
In my programs I sometimes ask for examples of feedback that have really helped participants. I would love to hear from you.
Yesterday, I was meeting with a senior manager – we’ll call him Saresh – and he was telling me about a problem he had with one of his employees, Chris. Saresh told me that Chris hadn’t been sharing information with the team.
Saresh also told me about a number of other small problems dating back months and years…As we talked I realized that there weren’t a few problems, but a lot of issues; and they weren’t small, some were rather big and impactful.
When I asked Saresh how Chris handled it when he gave him feedback, Saresh said that he hadn’t given much feedback. Saresh felt it was always better to give positive feedback, so he never commented on the things that were going wrong. Not surprisingly, the behavior and problems continued.
We talked about how important it was for Saresh to sit down with Chris and address the issues. He agreed to do just that, but I had forgotten to tell Saresh, “Just a few at a time. Don’t overwhelm.”
So, Saresh sat with Chris and he noted a lot of the problems – some dating back as far as two years prior. This, as you can imagine, led to a complete overload of information.
What went wrong?
Think of how a body needs to be nourished. We need healthy foods day in and day out. Our bodies benefit from moderation and consistency.
Feedback is just the same. Many employees are literally starving for feedback. They want the positive feedback, we can think of it as the dessert, and they also want the feedback that will help them grow, perhaps the veggies. Employees benefit from consistent feedback in small doses, just enough to ‘digest’. This is the type of feedback that they can apply to make changes and streamline and improve practices.
An overload of feedback in one sitting is like Thanksgiving dinner at my mother’s house. My body becomes overloaded and sluggish.
Have you even been overloaded or starved for feedback?