How to embrace feedback in the workplace

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As promised in my last blog, let’s talk about taking your feedback personally. Bear with me here.

One method we can use, is something called the “feedback sandwich.” The basic concept is that the “bread” is the positive things and the “meat” in the middle is the improvements bit. You start off positive, you give improvements (constructively) and then you end on a high note. Of course, there’s advice out there that goes against this method, but I like it. I find it very useful and easy to follow.

The facts are, at appraisal time, you need to provide evidence of your performance — whether feedback has been gathered or not, — and you will have to receive feedback (even worse). Although feedback can crush you (if given incorrectly) it can also feel great If . . .

If you don’t just take the negatives out of it.

Many of us tend to overlook the positives and take the negatives. We should start looking for silver linings. A feedback sandwich will make it easier, but we should also remember that if we were told we were amazing all the time — and I’ve no doubt you are amazing — we’d never develop, because we’d never have anything to learn or improve upon.

On the other hand, when we are told we’re amazing, what do we do? Typically, we write it off, smile and nod, “That’s my job.” (Sound familiar?) Well . . .  STOP. Positive feedback isn’t just empty words. If someone tells you you’ve done well or thanks you for a speedy response, chances are they mean it. (There’s really no life-changing benefit in it for them to thank you.) So, it’s high time you took it to heart!

Far be it for me to be a hypocrite, so partly for some training my mentor runs, partly for some personal development I’m doing and partly for this blog, I sent out 20 feedback requests to people I work with and for, including people I’ve butted heads with. (Let’s be honest. They’re the ones who are going to give me the most improvement areas.) I even sent a request to DXC’s top leadership in the UK&I region.  (Imagine my dismay when that leader replied, “Let’s chat”! But I braved through it.)

I handled the feedback well, so I was proud of myself for that. I had a nice cup of tea, took a deep breath and looked at the comments for what they were – chances to improve.

But how did I deal with the positive feedback? I didn’t. I thought, “That’s my job.” They were just telling me I was doing my job well, which I knew, right? Wrong.

What they told me is that they appreciated me, they valued me, they relied on me. That I knew more than I thought I did. That I had grown in the five months I’ve been in this new role. I’m not going to pretend I came to these conclusions on my own. I didn’t. My (probably very frustrated) mentor made me see what they were really saying and said to me (paraphrased), “I invest so much time and effort into you because I see potential in you.” I’ve heard that before – but this time something was different. I believed it.

My mentor lives and works at the other end of the country, hasn’t signed up to a mentor scheme as a stretch assignment, is very (very) busy and I suspect wasn’t really looking for someone to mentor. Her life would be just as fulfilled without me in it and probably have less hassle, too, because I’m going through a time of great change: I’m gaining confidence and self-assurance. I’m finding my place in DXC. I’m developing in my own little bubble into a business woman instead of a graduate. I’m becoming more aware of what I do and my impact — and becoming a bit narcissistic, too, because I feel important and needed. I am proud to call my job mine, I find myself taking ownership of my little corner of DXC, for better or for worse, and feel I’m becoming less reliant on my line manager.

Take your positive feedback to heart, because the words of your team aren’t meaningless. You listen to their opinions and ask for their advice on probably a number of things – so why don’t you listen to their opinions and advice on you?

You’re just doing your job, right?

Wrong – see why in the next blog.

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  1. […] hoping a lot of you have been able to take your feedback and compliments a little to heart. And I’m hoping more of you have taken the plunge and asked your colleagues — remote […]

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