Have you gotten feedback lately? How did you respond?
People fall into a number of pitfalls when it comes to feedback: They take it too personally. They get too defensive. They rationalize it and reject it.
None of this is helpful, to you or your career.
Your willingness to listen, learn, and improve will do more for your perception as a committed leader than anything else. A few simple steps on your part, in addition to getting the feedback, will make the process pay off.
A great first step is to come into feedback with an open mind. A common response is to defensiveness. When you shut down, you don’t take in the feedback at all. Now you are not only ignoring what you might need to change or improve but you are also closing off all possibilities of getting the insights you need to learn to do things differently.
Next, treat feedback as exactly what it is: Information. Before you discount any kind of feedback, at least make the effort to understand it and either validate or invalidate it. Feedback is just information; it is not the gospel truth. Feedback is someone opinion of you, wrapped in their personal experiences, bias, and observations. Some of it will be valuable and some will not.
Follow through. You have a choice on how you want to approach feedback—you can ignore it, or you can accept it. Once you have the feedback, you have to actually do something with it – including reflecting on the results, creating a plan of actions based on the information, and following through with the people who gave you the feedback. When asking for feedback, try the following suggestions to make sure you have a positive experience: thanking your participants, sharing what you have learned, describing what you will do now, asking for further suggestions, and following up periodically.
Taking these steps will communicate to everyone around you that you are a person who listens and who wants to be your best. The number one predictor of perceived effectiveness is your commitments to your own self-improvement. It is only part of the process to be committed. You need to show you are committed. Otherwise, no one will know. If they don’t know you have received the feedback, what would make them think it was worth giving in the first place?
One last thing. Now that you’re staying open to feedback, ask yourself whether you’re getting enough feedback, and the right kind to advance your career. Feedback, well-done, is one of the secrets of High Performing Leaders. To discover how you can get yourself high-quality feedback to improve your results, be sure to check out The 360 Investment – a self-study course that uses techniques of today’s best executive coaches to get you the feedback you need.
This article was originally posted as an Inc Column on Inc.com.