Feedback: Key to a better you

Last week at lunch one of my colleagues and I we're talking and she gave me some much needed feedback about something I need to keep in mind. But I didn't receive the feedback well because I wasn't expecting it at that point in the conversation. After lunch I asked her to E-mail me with more detail because I needed to hear it. I've known this individual for a while now and I value her feedback, but this one caught me a little off guard.

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During my career I've received various kinds of leadership training. Through the Leadership Legacy Forum I learned the most about how important feedback is for leaders; especially those who want to improve and change those things about themselves that they can. Feedback is critical and it's important to be able to receive and to give it. Often times receiving it is much more difficult than giving it.

A few lessons I wrote down over the years:

  • Be ready for feedback at anytime. Sometimes it's very direct and surprising, other times it's subtle and you have to be aware of it.
    • Since I've become more active in speaking and writing I have had to open up to receiving feedback almost constantly. In a recent presentation I gave I was receiving feedback during the presentation by an individual that disagreed with what I was presenting. During the presentation I could clearly see and hear them shaking their head and telling their colleague why they disagreed. The individual didn't speak up during the Q&A. Unfortunately I never had the chance to follow-up to see what they disagreed with.
  • Resist the urge to argue. Sometimes feedback contains things you don't want to hear. Resist the urge to argue and sleep on it if you have to.
    • Ask for clarification if you need to - without being argumentative. Occasionally statements come out in the wrong context or can be misinterpreted.
  • Act on feedback. People give you feedback so you can make changes to a behavior or situation.
    • Ask the person giving you the feedback for some ideas on how you can act on what they are telling you.
    • Change happens slowly and yourself and others may not notice the changes immediately.
  • Use lead-ins to prep someone if you are going to give direct feedback. There are times to be direct and times to be subtle. If you're going to be direct, lead the person into it so that they are ready to receive the feedback.
    • Lead-ins do not have to be some elegant work of prose, just something simple like "Hey, I noticed this the other day and wanted to talk to you about it"; anything to help the person prepare to receive feedback.
    • Subtle hints like "yeah, I see your point but I would look at that situation from other angles" can be useful to help point someone to other perspectives. You don't have to be explicit about what other angles; just plant the seed.
  • Context is key. You may provide feedback in the wrong context or at the wrong time.
    • Be ready to provide the feedback multiple times; especially if it will really help the individual out.

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Posted in Business Other Post Date 03/08/2015


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