Receiving Feedback

Although receiving fair and valid feedback that is presented in a constructive manner can be very instructive and helpful, most of us find critical feedback difficult to receive. It is hard to keep a non-defensive and open attitude as the implication is that we are flawed or wrong. The reality is that a defensive reaction to feedback results from it being at least partially accurate, otherwise we would simply dismiss it.

Multi-source or 360-degree feedback is based on the premise that the people who work closely with us are in the best position to provide helpful performance feedback. When the nature of feedback is consistent and those providing it are in an informed position, validation almost takes place by consensus. For example, Jackie may think she is a superb listener although everyone who works with her feels she is abysmal. It is very difficult to see ourselves as others see us. The irony is that our selfimage is at least in part a reflection of how others see us. However, we tend to judge ourselves by our good intentions while others judge us by what they observe or what they think they observe. Some people are much more sensitive to criticism than others. The most sensitive areas for feedback relate to job performance and integrity.

Here are some tips for preparing to receive feedback.

Prior to the meeting

  • Write down your personal idea of success in the workplace.
  • Reflect on how you could be more effective in the workplace.
  • Consider your current level of job satisfaction. What is having a negative impact on your commitment?
  • Consider how open you are to considering how your actions might impact on others.
  • Ask yourself how willing you are to accept the perceptions of others, even if you do not agree with them.

Beginning of the meeting

  • Make sure you have a non-defensive and open attitude. It sounds easy, but it can be hard to maintain under threat.
  • Relax and treat the session as an interesting exploration. The potential for learning is high.
  • Make sure all distractions have been removed and that you are able to focus on the process.

During the meeting

  • Develop an overview of the report. Try to identify key themes and
  • When a particular rating puzzles you, try and think about how that perception may have been formed.
  • Look for differences in rating from different groups. When gaps are evident. Ask yourself if you behave differently with different groups?
  • How do you tend to rate yourself? Are you overly harsh or generous?

End of the meeting

  • Identify a few key points and related actions.
  • Brainstorm appropriate development opportunities or commit to researching them.
  • Consider if you have had similar feedback before in your career.

Follow up

  • There are likely to be unanswered questions and the reflection process will continue over the next week. Make sure that you set aside some time for reflection and discussions with key individuals to help the clarification process.
  • Thank your rating team and give them some feedback.
  • Involve your manager in your development plan.
  • Revisit your Feedback Report and action/development plan at regular intervals during the year.