Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You’ve received the feedback. Now be open to it.

We talk a lot about feedback, and even call it a ‘gift’ for leaders. After all, feedback is a crucial development tool for leaders to use and improve their performance and interactions with others.

Feedback is essential for professional growth. But as a leader or manager, how open are you to receiving feedback?

Some may believe that if there is an issue, their coworkers will let them know so there is no need to start a feedback process in their company. But that is not always the case because it is human nature to withhold criticism. 

Let’s take for an example; you ate something at lunch that contained spinach and ended up getting it stuck in your teeth. You spend the rest of the day talking to people with the remnants of your lunch in your smile. Later in the day, you finally look in the mirror and are shocked to see you had a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth the entire time.


You think to yourself in embarrassment, “Why didn’t anyone tell me?” 

What does that have to do with feedback? Let’s say your subordinates view you as a micromanager who oversees every nitty-gritty detail of your team. You, on the other hand, believe you just stay on top of details, you have no idea you’re considered a micromanager. And why is that? Well, it really is extremely difficult to see in yourself what others see, and it is pretty unlikely that an employee will come into your office and let you know pointblank what people think of your management style.

This is when the 360 Feedback, which provides individuals with a well-rounded view of how others perceive an individual’s efforts, comes in handy. When the instrument guarantees confidentiality, it leads to more open and honest feedback. 

Listening to the perspectives of others is an important skill for those in management positions. It is especially important to listen to feedback from others about your own behavior, and to use it to change and improve your performance and interactions with others.

But if you are not open to the process, you will miss out some useful feedback that would improve your effectiveness. You have to acknowledge that there is always room to improve, and it is vital to begin listening to people’s suggestions and taking heed of them.

When you receive feedback, keep these development tips in mind:

  • Ask for specifics when receiving feedback, either positive or negative. Keep listening until you understand what the person is trying to communicate to you.
  • Use the three R’s to make sure you understand what a coworker is saying: Repeat, Restate, and Reflect.
  • Ask for feedback that is performance related. Ask for specific suggestions for improvement.
  • Don’t interrupt others when they are talking, even if you think you know what they are going to say.
Be open to feedback. If not, you will continue to walk around with spinach in your teeth, and who wants that?

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