At any level, you might find that receiving feedback is always an uncomfortable situation. Maybe it stems from us as humans being prone to find a way to defend ourselves when we feel we are being attacked, no matter in which form. And, for many, receiving feedback from their manager typically can feel like an attack. This feeling might arise because the feedback is coming from someone of authority, that is providing you information about something you are doing wrong or not to the standard of that individual. Or it can come from the fact that the authoritative figure is superior to you. But it can also stem from the fact that that the ‘someone’ is the ‘someone’ responsible for your performance evaluation and ultimately any financial increases you might be in line to receive. All of these or none of these can be reasons why this conversation can become comfortable and if not handled correctly can become quickly detrimental to your career in an organization. 

In my lifetime, whether at home by my parents, in school by my teachers and professors, or in work by my manager and superiors, feedback has been something that I have been afraid to receive. That conversation where someone with authority is talking to you about something you are not doing correctly can deem daunting and for me, it was no different. Because of this, I have always strived to do my very best in everything I do so those conversations can be less frequent instead of more. But no one is perfect and however difficult those conversations have been, in the end, they have been extremely useful and helpful in my development. You see most of us do not have the ability to truly understand our weaknesses and avoid even trying to figure them out and unless someone points them out to us, we are not really aware of where we need more development. These conversations are valuable and they bring to light things about yourself that you might have not even noticed that need to be improved. Now don’t get me wrong sometimes, depending on the person providing the feedback, these conversations can be demoralizing because the feedback is not sincere or appropriate but in most cases, these conversations are for our own benefit, and the way we approach them can change the impact of the conversation.

Early in my career, probably as most of us, I used to get very upset with these conversations. I would start to get defensive and justify everything I did and why I did them in that matter. With time I realized that after each conversation it made me think a little bit more about that behavior and be more aware of my conduct in future dealings when facing that same behavior. These conversations would help me think a little bit more of how to say things or how to do things in a matter that is more professional and in line with the company goals and expectations which is why I want to share some tips on how to approach receiving feedback a little bit differently. Today I received feedback in a three-step method.

My three-step method to receiving feedback is:

  1. Acknowledge the feedback
    • When you are receiving the feedback make sure you understand what the actual behavior is that is not in alignment with the company expectation. 
    • Ask for examples of when the behavior happened and what the correct expectation would have been in that situation.
    • Repeat in your own words what you are understanding the behavior is that it needs correction to ensure you are aligned in the action that needs correcting.
  2. Provide gratitude for the feedback
    • Thank the individual for the feedback. Remember they are taking the time to provide you feedback which means they are providing you the information you need in order to correct the behavior and ultimately have more success. If your manager did not care about you, they would not give you feedback. Without feedback you would ultimately fail because you are not performing to their liking and eventually, they will remove you from your role or the company. Therefore, being appreciative shows respect, gratitude, and professionalism. 
  3. Create an action plan to correct the behavior 
    • Now that you know what the issue is it makes no sense if you do not take any action upon it.
    • Create a plan that will help you correct the behavior that has been brought to your attention.
    • Maybe you need additional training, a mentor or guidance. This is the time to discuss any alternatives with your manager or reach out to Human Resources to assist you with this process.
    • The plan should have actionable items and ongoing items that you can continue to correct. 
    • Present the plan to your manager, make sure you both agree and try your hardest.

There is no easy formula to a successful feedback session but eventually, the three steps I have outlined have helped me in my success with feedback and will ultimately lead you to success with yours. Although, there are behaviors that can be quickly corrected and others that take time, what matters is the intent you have to genuinely correct the behaviors and demonstrating to your manager you are open to growing and learning together.

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