“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” Bill Gates
Throughout my career — and my married life — I have received a lot of feedback. Some have been extremely valuable and helped me progress forward. Some not. Some have been solicited. Some not. For the record, all the feedback from my wife is valuable.
As an Executive coach and a manager, I have also given a lot of feedback. I have sat down with hundreds of leaders to review their 360-degree reports and provided regular performance feedback to my employees.
Whether receiving a formal 360-report from a coach, a performance appraisal from your boss, or feedback from your spouse, I find these three questions to be helpful.
Do you understand the feedback?
Some of these highly detailed and specific 360-reports are extremely easy to read while others have more graphs, charts, and data elements than a CFO’s quarterly earnings report.
Or sometimes the feedback you get is so general that you don’t know what to do with it. How many of you have heard, “He needs to communicate better”? What the heck does that mean? Does he need to improve his grammar for the written communication? Does he need to be more sensitive when giving feedback? Does he need to deliver presentations more persuasively in company all-hands meetings?
If you don’t understand what the feedback means, ask clarifying questions. Ask for an example of when you performed and how could you have been better. Ask what ‘great’ would look like? But, ask for more clarity until you understand.
Once you can answer “Yes” to this question, move to number 2.
Do you care?
When someone gives you feedback or a 360-report shows that you are perceived as ‘strong’ or ‘weak’ in a certain area, it does not necessarily mean you should take action. It does, however, show what others care about which is an important consideration to whether YOU should care and take action. If you are the CFO and your ‘financial acumen’ is low, that is a problem. But if your “Informational Technology” skills are weak, maybe it is not critical.
Consider the following:
- Who gave you the feedback?
- Why is this person giving you this feedback?
- How will this information help or hinder your future success?
- What happens if you DO NOT heed the advice and make a change?
- What will happen if you DO heed the advice and make a change?
- How often have you heard this information before?
- Why is this information important?
Once you can answer “Yes” to this question, move to number 3.
What will you do about the information?
Now that you understand the feedback and care, it is time to put together an action plan. What will you do differently?