You have probably heard it said a million times – feedback is a gift?
It’s fair to say most of us loathe negative feedback. Being told that you’ve failed to meet expectations or that you’ve done something wrong at work can be a serious blow to the ego.
But criticism is an inevitable part of life in the workplace and we shouldn’t try to avoid it.
Why? Because, as it turns out, it could be your key to success at work!
So how do we go about this slightly uncomfortable task?
Know your timings.
Knowing when to ask for feedback is vital, so take opportunities when you can, remember these opportunities are to make you excel;
- During a formal review. Many companies have a formal annual/bi-annual review process, this is a routine and formal process where your boss will evaluate your progress/contributions over the last year. If your company doesn’t have a formal review process, you should ask your boss for a meeting.
- Before an important meeting, presentation, or project. Think of this as an opportunity to be coached or mentored by your boss. After one of these scenarios is also a good time to ask for feedback.
- During your day to day. There are small moments that occur every day when it’s appropriate to ask for feedback, or when your boss/even peers will openly give feedback. This is ongoing feedback and the more often this happens, the more opportunities you have to grow in your career. It’s an indication of a healthy working environment.
Key areas to cover
Increasing our chances of receiving and hearing the truth when people give us feedback, will maximise its effectiveness. Here are a few top tips:
- Be clear that you want honest feedback. Let people know they're doing you a favour by being truthful.
- Focus on the future.
- Ask for feedback regularly
- Probe more deeply.
- Bring questions and specific examples you want feedback on, to the table.
- Listen without judgment.
- Write down what they say.
Now you have it, what to do with it;
- Own it and hone it. Accept the feedback and make any necessary changes. Use it as an opportunity to sharpen your skills, gain more knowledge, and become better.
- Assume good intentions. Don't automatically jump to the conclusion that the person criticising you is "out to get you,” and “also remember that they're criticising your work, not you as a person. Never take negative feedback about your work as a criticism of you as a person.” Once you’re able to do this, it should be much easier to make positive changes.
- Use negative feedback as a chance to clarify expectations and goals around your position. “Be proactive about understanding your role,” Thorman says. Maybe you didn’t completely understand what was expected of you before. Now you do and can make improvements accordingly.
- Treat negative feedback as an opportunity to bond with your Manager. “Their job is to help you develop, while yours is to bring results. This is a prime opportunity to deepen your relationship.” Schedule regular meetings to discuss your progress and goals, and try to get to know your boss and understand what he or she values most in an employee.
- Use this as an opportunity to find a mentor or strengthen your relationships with co-workers.
- This is your chance to show that you’re open to change and capable of growth. Negative feedback is a great opportunity to show your employer that you’re mature, cooperative, and able to make necessary changes. Ask questions, but try not to question your manager’s judgment, and show how willing you are to fix any problems.
- Remember that all constructive feedback (even negative feedback) is a sign of interest and a sign that people want to help you do better. “It would be far worse for people to notice you doing bad work, and not say a word.”
Giving and receiving feedback can be one of the hardest conversations to have, for both parties, however it shows maturity and allows growth from so many directions.
And of course, no matter what, remember to say...