Feedback from others about our work, the change process we are leading, our style can be valuable, can help us improve. Seeking it out is an act of courage, an act of making yourself vulnerable. So what do we do with the feedback when we get it?
First off, it’s helpful to start with ‘Thank you’ as, while receiving feedback can be challenging, the act of giving feedback can also be an act of courage, especially if there is a real or perceived power difference between the giver and the receiver.
Second, say back what you have heard to check your understanding and ask clarifying questions (‘Help me understand….’), where needed. Avoid the he said, she said rabbit hole temptation as it will not end well. This is about understanding the other person(s) point of view, not a competition to win.
Third, remember not all feedback needs to be acted on. Consider four buckets: B1. Things to focus on improving in the next 3 months (realistically this is a small bucket and can only hold 1 or 2 things); B2. Things we can improve on later, after B1 is empty; B3. Things we might like to change, but are outside of our control/influence (i.e. issues governed organisational policies, in some cases salaries, context, etc.); B4. Things we will not change; this is the ‘Oh, I didn’t make this for you‘ bucket; we can still be generous in hearing the feedback from the person(s), ie. ‘thank you for taking the time to give me feedback’ is still extremely important and relevant.
Sorting the feedback we receive is a critical step. And perhaps we need two sets of buckets – one set about the project itself and one set about behaviours. I’m out sure, but I do know that if we put all the feedback into bucket 1 or 4, we’re likely not hearing the feedback well enough and nothing will change.
Photo by Austin Chan