Why is feedback one of the easiest things to offer and, yet, the hardest to accept? We need feedback because no one is right all the time. Feedback and coaching make you better and they help everyone grow personally and professionally, but emotions can prevent us from taking advantage of negative feedback; it doesn’t feel good to hear you are wrong or can improve in some way! What is ironic is that most feedback is rooted in truth, even when it’s not delivered in an ideal manner. There is an art to delivering feedback in a way that is constructive, but few have really mastered this. When you receive feedback, you have two choices: (1) you can put your feelings aside and try to learn from the situation, or (2) you can get angry and let emotion get the best of you. One method is proactive, the other is reactive.
The best leaders embrace feedback. Praise and feedback are part of a healthy culture; critical thinking and the alternative perspective are also part of what makes good organizations great. We could all benefit from some training around using emotional intelligence when delivering feedback. Hearing (and I a mean really hearing!) feedback also facilitates growth and personal development. If you want to hear the truth, I have seen five things that help leaders get the most from feedback:
- Be sincere– only ask for feedback if you really want to hear the truth.
- Determine the issue– have the other person explain, in detail, exactly what the issue is. Probe and clarify until you are sure that you are on the same page and truly understand what is being said.
- Understand the consequences– it is important to know why the issue is an issue for them. Also, take time to understand the consequences of doing nothing or keeping your behavior status quo.
- The way forward– together with the other person, discuss options for rectifying the issue and moving forward.
- Reflect – allow time to consider your options and decide the best course of action. Whether you choose to make changes or not, take the opportunity to explain your decision to the other person and thank them for their feedback.
It is easy to say you want feedback! Unless you have clear values that place importance on honesty, integrity, and respect for what others view as important in the workplace, you will never truly appreciate feedback. As I think about the year ahead, one of my own goals is to embrace feedback and see it as a constructive learning tool that facilitates my skills as a business owner and recruiter. Best wishes for a tremendous season of joy!