Johana has been working with an IT organization for last 3 years at mid-management level. She has aspiration to become a Director. During the appraisal cycle, she got feedback that though she is seen as sincere, hard-working and knowledgeable, but she still needs to be more strategic and needs to get better at communication.
She was perplexed by the feedback and decided that she needed help. Johana and I worked together on these areas. When I started exploring with her the expectation gaps, she understood that her feedback was missing the required details. As we discussed more, she realised that she should have asked more questions to understand things better and that she should have asked for specific scenarios where she fell short of expectations, so that she could understand the feedback in context.
One must spend time exploring feedback, it is a good way to start understanding where exactly the change is needed. “You need to be more strategic” is a vague feedback and such words or phrases can have very different meanings, based on the perspective of the person who gives the feedback.
Not every boss is good at providing great feedback. Similarly, not everybody is good at taking feedback, deciphering it and using it to make positive changes. So how can you have better feedback conversations? These are top five things that came up during my conversations with Johana and I believe these can be useful for you as well.
- Let’s be Human: Our managers may have different behaviours when it comes to sharing feedback. He/she may give less feedback or too much; may give less details or too many; may give feedback just once a year or too frequently. All humans are different. You may need to adjust a bit and be proactive in getting the feedback and using the feedback you get.
- Growth mindset: You must seek to grow. Feedback does not limit you but not using feedback will most definitely limit you. You can choose what feedback you act upon, set your own priorities. Your growth is your own responsibility.
- Ask questions: Be genuinely curious and try to understand the feedback and the perspective of the person giving feedback. Do not be defensive in any way, that will defeat the purpose. The person who is giving feedback is giving you a gift, you must thank them for it and show interest in understanding the feedback. If it helps, please assume the feedback is for your friend and that you need to find all details so that you can help him/her to chart a course of action.
- Consider also the unspoken feedback – Reflect on the unspoken feedback. Sometimes you just get a feel that you are being isolated, or your boss is not taking your inputs even when required, etc. Reflect on these things, they most definitely are a feedback. You will have to ask your boss about these things. You will have to observe, note down the scenarios and quote examples to seek specific feedback and change your situation.
- It is not a formality – Do not take feedback to only check a box. Do not think that though you have taken the feedback, you just did it because it is part of the process, one more job to be done. Do not think that it is not genuine, and that you can just disregard it later. Reflect on it and create your action plan. Share action plan with the Boss, seek help needed to execute and keep him / her posted on the progress.
Do these five steps and the feedback will no longer feel like a maze that you cannot negotiate but will become the staircase that will take you to the next level in your career.
If you need help, feel free to reach out: click on the link here.