By Tanner Hubbard
Feedback from others is the key to improvement. This idea is a truism that has been around since the beginning of time. The only way for any of us to grow and mature is to recognize an area of weakness and make it a focal point for improvement. Whether we like it or not, other people often see our flaws long before we do.
This does not mean that we should walk around looking for opportunities to point out someone else’s failures or spend our days constantly reminding our family and friends of where they are falling short. But, we should absolutely be open to the concept of giving and receiving constructive feedback with those in our life. For most this is not a far-fetched idea when it comes to a loved one; but what about with a coworker? Should I really care about getting feedback from someone at my job?
Simply put, yes. It is vital that we learn how to receive constructive criticism in the workplace. Even if you are a very self-aware person who believes you already know your shortcomings and are actively trying to better yourself, I’m going to share 3 reasons why I think you should still be open to feedback from others (particularly as it relates to your job):
- A Different Perspective – No matter how much you think you know about yourself, receiving feedback from someone else will open your eyes to their perception. Even if what they have to say is strictly that, a perception, it is good to know that perspective. As the well-known adage goes “perception is reality,” and until you know what another person’s impression of you is, you can’t do anything about addressing the real (or perceived) issues they may be seeing.
- Embracing Transparency – It is important to show others that you are open to coaching and are willing to change. By being receptive to feedback, you are telling others (through your actions) that you are an open book and that you have a desire to grow and change. This can set you up for success, because the easier it is for someone to share their thoughts with you, the more likely that they will continue to speak into your life / job performance in the future. The more feedback we receive, the more opportunities we have for growth.
- Setting an Example – Whether you are a leader in your organization or not, you can always set a positive example of what receiving feedback should look like in the workplace. Of course, leaders always want their employees to be mature in receiving a non-glowing performance review so they should also be willing to receive constructive feedback themselves. Regardless of your title, a mature person will always be open to hearing how they can improve and be appreciative for the opportunity to continue their personal and professional development.
What is much more important than any feedback you will receive in your life is how you will respond to that feedback. I have seen individuals (and organizations) who have received minor criticisms and handled it poorly, or even flat out ignored it. However, I have also seen those who have received major constructive feedback but handled it in a way that actually increased my confidence in them. I promise you this: good companies are looking to promote individuals who can handle bad news well and have a willingness to learn and grow with the organization.
To that end, I would suggest that you remain humble and take ownership when faced with feedback on your performance. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with the assessment you received, but it means you are open to getting better. You can still focus on areas of improvement and communicate that with the one(s) who brought it up. This is harder if the feedback is not shared with you in a respectful way, but that is when you have to swallow your pride and embrace the opportunity to professionally develop. Creating some self-identified “action items” is a great follow-up to show that you are being intentional with this process. People will generally give you a lot of grace if you show that you are trying.
Perhaps in the future, I will write a piece on how to give feedback in a respectful way because this is all a two-way street. But for now, focus on what you have control over and remember the 3 reasons it is important to receive a critique on your job performance. It gives you a Different Perspective, demonstrates that you want to Embrace Transparency and it Sets an Example for others.
Within the different teams that I’ve led over the last 12 years, I have undoubtedly had more confidence in the people who responded maturely to my feedback as opposed to those who did not. My idea of a great leader is one who is vulnerable enough to ask for feedback and strong enough to act on it. That is a leader who I want to follow.
After receiving a BBA in Business Administration from the University of Central Arkansas, Tanner spent a year serving people and learning from different cultures and world views while visiting over a dozen countries on 4 continents. Since then, Tanner has helped small businesses in central Arkansas grow by creating the systems and structure necessary to achieve success. From supporting roles and field work to managing operations and hiring personnel, Tanner has worked in nearly every level of business within his young career and offers a unique “real-life” perspective on leadership.