The Early Days
When I first entered the workforce post undergrad I was bright-eyed, confident, outspoken, and ready to take risks. I had a lot of ideas and like always I was ready to hit the ground running and I did. Right away I was involved in process improvement and leading a team of 30. With great responsibility (and my need to be on the edge of risk) there were times where I made some mistakes. What do they say –to assume makes an ass out of “u” and “me.” Yes, all of that. Although, I haven’t lost my desire to take risks I have polished some of the other features.
I worked with someone who used her position power to create an environment of micromanagement. I got bombarded with feedback from the Uggs I wore out in the snow until I got to the building to my hair to the formatting she just did not like in my work. Receiving feedback that at times caught me off guard became normal. Although this was not the best experience it taught me 4 essential things that continue to aid me in my career today.
#1 Lackluster “Leadership”
FYI the quotations around leadership are sarcasm. Of course, when I began my career I had very few examples of excellent leadership because I had very few bosses yet. So I thought her ways were normal. My number one biggest take away is never let them see you sweat.
Throughout your career you are going to get hit with all sorts of feedback including feedback actually pertinent to your career success and also the most asinine details. It may be catered to you but also may reflect the giver of the feedback. They could be having a bad day, personally have insecurities, or generally have not been trained as a leader. The education is in how you react and how you bounce back — gracefully. What has helped me is practicing transitional statements. For example:
When I feel that I am not emotionally prepared to handle the feedback I might say “I need some time to process that. Would you mind if I set up a follow up meeting?” By suggesting a later meeting to further discuss you are buying yourself time to collect yourself and remove emotion from your response. That’s right. You can keep all those choice words in your mind and save them to vent to a friend while keeping your reputation with your boss intact.
If I need clarity I quickly follow up with “What I am understanding is this…..*repeat what you believe they said” This gives you the opportunity to confirm if you received their message the way that they intended.
Lastly, “thank you for that feedback. I will make sure to apply that in the future.” Sometimes whether you agree or disagree you just have to chalk it up as feedback. This response states that you hear them and you’re ready to move forward.
#2 Choose your battles wisely.
You may not always agree with your boss’ feedback but the last thing you want to do is argue with them. It will add salt to the wound for you and your boss. Take the information and then decide what you want to do with it. At times, you are given feedback with curiosity to see how you will handle it. Many people are intimidated by situations where they have to be assertive and confront situations with their subordinate. Your boss is probably just as nervous as you are. Choose your battles wisely. In the event, that an incident truly was not your fault, still graciously accept the feedback. The last thing you want to do is spend more time debating. Although you may receive negative information, how you respond could turn the situation into a positive. What is your next move?
#3 Own it.
Lastly, own your situation. In circumstances where you are given genuine and constructive feedback, do not blame it on anyone else. Be gracious that someone was even honest enough with you to give you candid feedback and make sure you actually apply it. Not only should you apply it but circle back to your boss during a future touch base and bring up the lesson learned. Demonstrate how you applied it. This builds trust.
When you show how gracefully you own the situation after receiving undesirable feedback it's almost like a check mate. Click To Tweet You’re saying you heard them regardless if you agree. Now you have the opportunity to capitalize on the information by knowing your boss’ perspective, posturing (love that word) yourself in a way to prevent further confusion or miscommunication, and having ability to shine the next time around by being privy to this information.
# 4 Document!
When you receive feedback it’s so important to document. Date. Time. From who. This gives you a log of constructive feedback that you can turn into personal goals for your career going forward. It also makes it easier to show what you’ve accomplished for the year when appraisal time approaches. When you can tie the feedback to actions you have taken to address it you are investing in yourself! This will also make it easier to follow up with your boss on your performance and ensure you’re moving in the right direction for that next promotion or special project you’ve been wanting! Basically, you’re showing that you mean business.
That is what makes the bounce back so beautiful! You are left a few steps ahead of the game. What kind of challenges regarding feedback have you all encountered and what helped you most in those situations?