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Last edition of the Edge (September 2013), we talked about receiving feedback. We likened feedback to “grit in the oyster” that sometimes starts out painful but later becomes valuable, as a pearl. It’s a rare leader who goes through a feedback process without receiving some kind of a “ding”, the feedback that initially seems “negative” or bothersome.
So is all grit helpful? No. All feedback is merely someone’s opinion, from their perspective at a given point in time. Your job is to figure out what to keep, table or trash. This is where a trusted development partner can be invaluable. You hold the first right of refusal as to what to do with the feedback. But before you send some of the feedback to the trash bin it can be profitable to take a moment to consider the learning messages or themes that come from the feedback.
Consider the Source…
By group. As you interpret your feedback results, consider the general direction from where the feedback originates. Are the scores or commentary coming from peers? Your peers in the organization have a view of you unique to them. If some view you as competitive more than they view you as collaborative, they may likely come from the peer group. And your direct reports are likely to be in the better position to comment on your use of power and authority than any other group in the organization. It’s interesting to note that people generally tend to be at their worst when they feel powerless as direct reports sometimes do.
By needs. Although anonymity should be present in all feedback processes, it can be constructive to consider the preference or need(s) likely displayed by some of the feedback results. As an example, let’s say that one rater or reviewer believes that you are too vision-oriented or horizon focused. They believe that you don’t do an effective job of laying out the tasks at hand. Rather than trying to figure out “who said what”, it is better to consider the learning message that there are some who need more normative instruction or direction. And from the learning message comes a choice as to what will be done, if anything, in the way of modified methods or behavior to meet those needs.
The best thing to do with feedback is to explore the possibilities with an experienced and trusted advisor who is vested solely in your progress and success. It’s a valuable experience.
Just like that, Thanksgiving is almost here once again. Thank you for your partnership and your friendship. Happy Thanksgiving.
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