Leadership and the art of feedback


We all get feedback. Formal or informal, feedback is shared with us in our professional and personal lives. Feedback is essential to improve performance, develop leadership competencies, set expectations and promote personal growth.

But in some organizations, feedback is not fully embraced and usually tends to end up as a performance review session once a year.  Let’s be honest here, most people dread performance evaluations.

In a recent study, 55% of employees said their most recent performance review had been unfair or inaccurate, and one in four said they dread such sessions more than anything else in their working lives.

Most managers feel uneasy about sharing feedback as well as receiving it in a healthy constructive way. Some managers view feedback as a necessary evil when problems occur, but not fully utilizing feedback to promote growth and development with the opportunities presented to them on a daily basis.

There are some good news though. The skills needed to receive and share feedback are critical and learnable. These skills include managing our emotions and extract value from criticism even when poorly delivered.

In the book, “Thanks for the feedback: the science and art of receiving feedback well,” Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen share six steps to become a better feedback receiver.

The six steps they share in their book, will help you look at feedback in a different light than ever before. Feedback is not a bad word. It really depends on your perspective. feedback-6

Know your tendencies-When you receive feedback, notice the internal dialogue inside your head. Do you tend to reject the feedback or the person giving it? Do you accept the feedback immediately or you validate it after you had a chance to reflect on it?

Disentangle the “what” from the “who”-We all have relationship triggers. Depending on the person giving us the feedback, we sometimes tend to agree or disagree based on our relationship with people we engage with. Sometimes you have to separate the message from the messenger and then consider both.

Sort toward coaching-Evaluation is where you stand and what’s expected of you. However, coaching allows us to learn and improve which helps us reach a higher level of performance.

Unpack the feedback-Before you accept or reject feedback, do some reflection to better understand it. When you are not hurried to make quick judgments and take the time to reflect where the feedback is coming from, you can have a healthy valuable perspective.

Ask for just one thing-Find opportunities to get small bite size pieces of coaching from different people throughout the year. Don’t say, “Do you have any feedback for me?” Instead ask your peers and boss, “What’s one thing you see me doing (or failing to do) that holds me back?”

Engage in small experiments– In order to understand feedback, you have to keep trying and experiment. Feedback is never easy to take. You might feel misjudged, unappreciated and threatening.

Your growth and potential depends on your ability to pull value from feedback in spite of your natural responses and your willingness to seek out more feedback and coaching from your boss, colleagues, peers and the people you lead. Feedback-Session

If you are determined to learn from the feedback you get, you are setting yourself up for great leadership.



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