I recently reviewed the book, Trajectory: 7 Career Strategies to Take You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. Managers who are interested in staying ahead of the curve when it comes to staff development, (or who are interested in their own leadership development), can learn a lot from this book I’m pleased to feature a guest post which shares actionable advice that managers and employees can use.
Getting feedback is an important way to improve performance at work. But sometimes, it can be hard to seek out, and even harder to hear. “Feedback is all around you. Your job is to find it, both through asking directly and observing it,” says David L. Van Rooy, author of Trajectory: 7 Career Strategies to Take You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (AMACOM; May 13, 2014). Van Rooy offers six tips to help workers get the feedback they need to improve performance at work.
- Don’t forget to ask: One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming things are going perfectly (until they make a catastrophic mistake). By not asking, you’re missing out on opportunities for deep feedback: the difficult, critical feedback that gives you constructive ways to improve.
- Make sure you listen: Remember, getting feedback is about improving your performance, not turning it into a “you versus them” mentality. “Your reaction is critical. Do not rationalize the feedback or explain it away. Do not blame others or get angry. If you react in any of those ways, you are less apt to get accurate feedback from that person again,” Van Rooy cautions. “All too often, people let feedback that is given with positive intentions spiral into a negative situation by reacting destructively.”
- Ask clarifying questions: If feedback surprises you, it may be a matter of miscommunication or misperception, and asking questions will give you a clearer picture. Staying clearheaded enough to ask questions and listen to specific suggestions will help you understand the full scope of the feedback and ways that you need to take action to improve.
- Take time to digest: This is especially important if the feedback is difficult to hear. Taking time to digest and process before you respond helps you react constructively. Say something like “Thank you for the feedback,” and schedule a later time to follow up. Then, you can come back with additional clarifying questions and a plan to change and improve.
- Don’t just look to bosses for feedback: “Some of the best and most insightful feedback will come from colleagues and direct reports. These are the people who get to see and interact with you the most,” Van Rooy advises. Instead of relying solely on guidance from a supervisor, ask colleagues and direct reports to provide feedback, because they may spot potential problems before you or your boss would notice. Seeking feedback from people in other departments lets you hear different perspectives from people focused on other sides of the business.
- Get feedback through observation: Learning from your successes and failures is a kind of feedback that helps you change your course of action. Consider the example of a speaker who notices people looking confused or inattentive and uses that feedback to change his approach and recapture their attention.
Adapted from TRAJECTORY: 7 Career Strategies to Take You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by David L. Van Rooy.
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