This post originally appeared on the Sklar Wilton & Associates blog.
For some people, feedback is an extremely valuable gift to be sought after and treasured.
For others, it’s a dreaded piece of torture that reminds them how terrible they are at everything in life.
Feedback is an essential component not only at Sklar Wilton, but also in the larger business world, one that is valued by high performing leadership teams, and one that helps every employee learn and grow and be better at the things they love. Well delivered and well received feedback can promote a positive workplace culture, build stronger relationships among employees, and contribute to growth.
So what is someone to do if anticipating and receiving a gift of feedback feels like torture? Here are a few tips.
Remember that there is more to your life than your weaknesses. You are also the dad wearing a tutu in the grocery store because your son wanted someone to join him, the mom who shovels the snow from the walkway for your elderly neighbour, the friend picking up mail for a colleague who is away visiting their aging mom in the hospital. You are a multi-faceted person succeeding in over-lapping areas of life from work to school to volunteer activities and leisure time. A weakness or two in one area of your life does not translate to weaknesses in all areas of your life.
Remember that it is impossible for anyone to perform at peak, all day, every day, while carrying around the emotional baggage that all of us do. We all worry about our kids, our aging parents, our health, the bills we need to pay, and so much more. We are not robots programmed with artificial intelligence to input and output based on perfectly programmed algorithms. By design, humans have weaknesses and are not perfect. We get tired, bored, annoyed, over-excited, over-worked, and stressed and that can only impact our work.
Remember that your successes are far greater than your weaknesses, as small or large as you’ve imagined them to be. Your failures might threaten your self-image and your identity. They might take centre stage with giant billboards in your brain. But your successes at work, both large and small, are certainly far more numerous than your weaknesses. Make the effort to remember all the great things you’ve accomplished at work over the last month, year, and decade, and how awesome they really were.
Remember that feedback is someone else’s perception. Sometimes, the feedback will be 100% valid and completely unknown to you. It could give you reason to improve specific behaviours you never realized needed improving, and jump-start you onto an even better future. And sometimes, though the feedback might not reflect your reality, it does reflect the other person’s reality, their perceptions. In such cases, you will need to recognize that someone’s unique experience with you is valid and deserves to be appreciated. In either case, feedback is a gift that will help you adjust your behaviours for the better, whether that means changing the behaviour itself or doing a better job of managing expectations and perceptions related to those behaviours.
When you do find yourself on the receiving end of the gift of feedback, be sure to ask your gift giver for specific, current examples. Examples from the far past or from one-time events probably can’t be acted on now. But examples from ongoing tasks present multiple opportunities for you to learn and implement real change. Be prepared to take full advantage!
Be open to hearing suggestions you’ve already thought of and discarded. If someone who has taken the time to offer you the gift of feedback has specific suggestions, it’s worthwhile to reconsider them. Find out more specifically what they’re referring to and see if they have more specific ideas of how those ideas could work.
Be aware of your words and your body language. Receiving feedback might be difficult for you, but it might also be difficult for the person offering it. Focus on listening and encouraging rather than defending and rejecting. Make sure your body language demonstrates that you are open and positive about the feedback even when you’re struggling to feel good about the words you’re hearing.
Finally, remember that feedback really is a gift. It means that someone cares enough about you to want to help you learn, grow, and become more successful. Accept it with many thanks.
Perhaps you’d like these posts too…
- Canadian perceptions of Artificial Intelligence and Implications for Businesses
- How to Build a Unified Team Through the 4C’s of Collaboration, Communication, Cover, and Celebration
- How to Build Your Brand Story
This post was written in my role as a consultant for Sklar Wilton & Associates. SW&A has worked for more than 30 years with some of Canada’s most iconic brands to help them grow their brand, shape corporate culture, build successful innovation, define portfolio strategies, and maximize research ROI. They offer strategic advice, business facilitation, research management, qualitative/quantitative research, and analytics. SW&A was recognized as a Great Workplace for Women in 2018, and the Best Workplace in Canada for Small Companies in 2017 by the Great Place To Work® Institute. Inquire about their services here.
Chaired by Marc Engel
Service Recovery, Gurt and Paul from Feedtrail
- [presented with 11 minutes notice so huge kudos to you!)
- Customer feedback program that measures the experience immediately not 2 days or 2 months from now
- Helps you ensure the appropriate person knows about the problem immediately so the issue can be resolved immediately
- You don’t need to wait until the end of your hotel experience to give your review of the bed or the bathroom. Give your review now so they can fix things when you still need them fixed,
Email is Dead. PowerPoint is Dead. Smart Video is Now the Killer Way to Communicate Insights! By Paul Field (Touchcast)
- [they set up a live green screen, he’s running all his slides from his cell phone]
- It’s easier to talk with people using video, more memorable, more expressive, more human
- You can show videos, products, documents, polls, surveys, quizzes but also be on the screen yourself to point at things or write on the screen
- They’ve included instagram style filters but nobody uses them. But of course people would be upset if there were no filters 🙂
Empathy: The Real Killer App for Insights by Katja Cahoon (Beacon)
- [game to play: write down all the numbers she will say and answer the questions that are to come]
- Most people write down the four primary colours, bed/table/chair/desk, and Einstein. Most people choose the same set of common words due to stress and bias, stereotyped, programmed ways of thinking. It’s hard to break out of them during pressure. It happens so during brainstorming sessions too.
- You can ask questions a different way and get completely different answers. Questions help you develop empathy.
- Perspective taking – consider from the perspective of the consumer, do you feel you know everything, have you walked in the consumers shoes, have you worn the adult diapers yourself?
- Don’t judge – is your team diverse or biased?
- Recognize the emotion in others – do we truly feel what they’re feeling or are we just measuring it
- Communicate the emotion and understanding – use cocreation
- Get out of the well worn thought pathways and brush aside the stereotypes
How to Drive Smarter Product Decisions with Agile Research by Thor Ernstsson (Alpha)
- Old research is gated decision making, decisions are irreversible, consensus is required.
- Agile research is high velocity, decisions are reversible, there is disagreement and committment
- We aren’t building space ships, it’s basic products
- The problem is never the idea, most people are in their jobs because they know what they are doing
- It’s okay to launch small decisions that are wrong and reversible that you can continually improve on
- Change your bias from planning to acting, change from being comfortably predictable to uncomfortably unpredictable, go from upfront exhaustive research to iterative experimentation
- Be ruthlessly outcome oriented
[tweetmeme source=”lovestats” only_single=false]I occasionally like to entertain people by engaging in executive speak.
“We have a great team here. We’ve made a lot of progress and accomplished many important goals. We need to continue to work together and build strong relationships. We’ve demonstrated passion and hard work and we will continue to grow.”
I think I’m going to chuckle and throw up at the same time. That inspirational summary managed to say a whole lot of nothing in many words. What progress? What goals? What relationships? This kind of chatter might make people feel good but without any operationalization, you’d be better off singing the alphabet. You’re a researcher. You know exactly how to operationalize.
Name the goal, say how many days early it was accomplished, say which clients gave positive feedback, describe the positive feedback. It might take more time but this is how your team will be able to reproduce the great outcome the next time. Which I assume is what you were trying to do.
Read these too