We know that receiving valid feedback for improvement on our performance and then acting on it is a helpful way to continue our professional development. However, it is all easier said than done.
This is one of the helpful themes of the book Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (even when it is off base, unfair, poorly delivered, and, frankly, you’re not in the mood). What a great, though long, title! This really captures part of the challenge of acting on feedback.
I recommend the book and here are a couple of quick takeaways you can start using today, if you want feedback for improvement:
*Ask people (coworkers, supervisor, direct reports) “What’s just one thing I could work on to improve. Please make it as practical as you can.” Ask enough people that you find a theme. Don’t try to work on everything that people suggest! Pick just one thing.
*Sometimes people have a hard time identifying something for you to work on. As a twist on the first suggestion, ask instead “What’s one thing you see me doing that gets in my way?” Again, look for themes and pick just one thing to work on.
*Finally, when you start to implement a change in behavior according to the feedback, remember that change is hard and give yourself time to change. Try small experiments with the change and do not expect to be newly perfect all of a sudden.
We can all improve and continuous improvement is a hallmark of a great leader. Put take it one thing at a time and build on your improvements. And make sure to thank people for their feedback – even though, you know, it may not be delivered perfectly.