Personal feedback on one’s working style and effectiveness can be hard to take.
It might make you blush (a nice problem to have!) or it could make you feel angry or frustrated. And yet, 9 times out of 10, even the most negative of feedback could result in positive change.
An entertaining debate about this over Christmas got me thinking so I’m opting for a new kind of new year’s resolution this time around. Making more time to paint, giving up chocolate and things like that are all great but top of my (very short!) list of resolutions for 2015 is to revisit the feedback I’ve received over the last year. I’m asking myself if I’ve let any bad habits creep back in? Am I building on my strengths as well as I could? How can I apply previous feedback to make sure 2015 is a good one?
I think of it this way; it’s not often that you get honest face-to-face feedback, mainly because it’s rare to find someone who is open, direct and courageous enough to give it. So when you do, you need to treat it as a gift, whether it comes through an appraisal, 360 degree feedback or just in conversation, using feedback to improve your business performance is the real key to getting value from it.
I recently received some feedback that told be a lot about my communication style. It was neither negative nor positive, as it happens, but it was made clear that the impression of me received over the telephone was very different from the experience of meeting me face to face.
Personal presence is clearly a much stronger way to build a real sense of confidence in our abilities. This may seem blindingly obvious, but for some people, the opposite might apply. We all have different ways of communicating; for some people their written or verbal presence is stronger than their physical presence. It may just come down to body language, but whatever the reasons, we all come over in our own particular way in each of the communication channels available to us.
For me, this nugget of information is hugely valuable feedback. It’s not a surprise. It is something I’ve known for a while but it was a useful reminder that I must invest the time in having more face-to-face meetings. That’s another resolution added to my list!
How not to react to feedback
Reflecting on this feedback was a great opportunity to put myself in the shoes of people who use our 360 degree feedback system. I could have:
- dismissed the feedback as being inconsequential
- taken it as criticism and been defensive and negative about it
- taken it for granted, given that its something I already know to be the case.
All of the above responses would have resulted in me taking no action – thereby forfeiting the value of the feedback. What a lost opportunity that would have been!
Instead, I am putting my feedback to work; with this information, I can now ensure I use my strengths to develop better business relationships. The underlying message is clear and I now know how to handle new encounters to get the best results but it reminded me, once again, how much value you can get from 360 feedback – if you take action on the insights it delivers.
So, if you’ve been lucky enough to receive feedback in the last year, put it to work! Commit yourself to a new year’s resolution and make sure it’s one you keep to!
Equally, if you’re managing a 360 feedback process for your organisation, remember to make sure everyone has the right level of support to enable them to make the most of the valuable insights they receive. And encourage candidates to re-read their 360 degree feedback report 6 – 12 months down the line. That way, the value of the process can be maximised by the individual, his/her team and the company as a whole.
After all, 360 degree feedback is an investment by a company in its people. Seeking feedback is the first step. Listening to it and acting on it in a positive way are the crucial next steps if all parties are to benefit.
That’s why making the most of personal feedback is top of my list of new year’s resolutions. What’s on your list?