Feedback saves you from the person you once were and gives you insight into how you're perceived by others. If given good feedback from observant peers and leaders, it can help you become better at your job. Without it you're doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes, and you may not even realize it. The trick is getting honest feedback.
Peter Bregman helps advise CEOs and leaders, he recently wrote an article on the Harvard Business Review summarizing the best ways to get and receive feedback. The first way to deter that good, honest feedback is by getting defensive. It's tough hearing about our flaws, no matter if it's from a boss or a peer at work, but making excuses for your shortcomings is a quick way to deter any helpful feedback. But you have to resist pushing back. People will defer to niceties, as they don't want to jeopardize their working relationship with you, and they'll be hesitant to offer any real critiques in the future.
“...your colleagues are less likely to push past your defensiveness and more willing to write you off if they have a hard time working with you. If that happens, you’ll never know why--since you won’t have heard the feedback--so you’ll keep repeating the same mistakes.”
In order to get the best out of your next performance review, Bregman suggests to start off the conversation by asking for honesty—not niceties to appease you. This requests helps encourage the reviewer to open up and lets them know that a polite review won't yield a better output from you going forward. Bringing a pen and pad of paper, and writing down what's said during the review only helps your cause. It lets the speaker know you value what they're saying and gives them time while you scribble away to think on and develop more thoughtful points.
Another helpful tactic Bregman suggests is to focus the conversation on the future—what could you be doing better. This tactic helps the reviewer be more honest and lessens the blow to you about hearing past errors. It gives you a goal to strive for rather than dwell on a past indiscretion that you can't change.
Bregman reminds that not all reviews are a true reflection of who you really are as a worker, but it's how this person perceives you. It doesn't mean that this feedback isn't valuable. For instance, if you're boss tells you that you're not taking on enough, but you're working throughout the day, you may need to communicate your schedule better to your superiors.
Few of us are born leaders, we need to learn to become that person through the feedback of our peers and supervisors. It may be a tough pill to swallow at times, but the end results, if you choose to act on that feedback, may make it well worth any temporary discomfort you may suffer.
Read more at Harvard Business Review
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