The #1 Skill Holding You Back
While it may not seem like it on the surface, the ability to effectively give and receive feedback is
perhaps one of the most THE MOST important soft skill to have today. Why is feedback a career gamechanger?
Having the ability to give and receive feedback – and do both well – means that you’re coachable as an employee and able to coach as a manager. In today’s modern workplace where a feedback culture reigns supreme, this can mean the difference between success and failure.
Let’s examine the value of feedback – and its ability to make or break a career – from both the employee and the manager’s perspectives.
A productive approach to feedback means being open to receiving it and adjusting your behavior accordingly. This includes both negative and positive feedback, as well as many different types of feedback.
Negative feedback – delivered in a constructive way – is incredibly valuable to employees at all levels. It creates awareness around the actions and behaviors that are negatively impacting those around them and, in turn, an employee’s career. Those who use negative feedback as an opportunity to shift their behavior can speed up their path to promotion.
It’s not just negative feedback that helps employees grow. Positive feedback can be equally beneficial. It can help employees identify the behaviors that make them stand out from their peers in a good way. After all, it’s just as important to understand what you’re doing right alongside what you might be doing wrong.
In addition to embracing both positive and negative feedback, employees should also take advantage of the many different ways to receive it. These can include:
- Coaching, which managers do during check ins and 1:1s, offering in-the-moment constructive criticism, encouragement and praise.
- Mentoring, where individuals can seek advice and direction on their career goals and aspirations.
- 360 feedback, which allows employees to identify what others see as their strengths and weaknesses and collectively see trends.
- Anonymous feedback, a safe, non-threatening way to hear from others in sensitive situations.
- Project retrospectives for instant feedback after a major project ends, so employees can apply any lessons learned immediately.
- Peer-to-peer feedback, which offers employees the chance to see themselves through their co-workers’ eyes and evaluate themselves as a teammate to others in the organization.
Feedback comes in all forms. No matter where you are in your career, whether it’s your first job or you’re an experienced executive, there is always room to grow and opportunities to improve.
Whether you have any direct reports or not, every employee has valuable feedback to give to others in their organization (and plenty of opportunities to do so, based on all the ways listed above). But how exactly does giving great feedback help you succeed?
If you are a manager, you are evaluated on your ability to lead a team. Being good at giving feedback:
- Makes your employees better, which reflects your own abilities as a manager
- Increases your team’s potential and value to the organization
- Highlights your skills as an effective coach
If you are an individual contributor without direct reports, your performance evaluation is based on your own achievements. Being good at giving feedback:
- Demonstrates to your manager that you have leadership potential
- Makes you a better peer and collaborator
- Increases your value to the organization
To better receive feedback:
- Maintain a positive mindset where you can appreciate someone else’s perspective for what it is – a way to help you see how others see you.
- Ask for specific ways to change or adjust your behavior. It’ll help you get even more out of the feedback.
- Set goals for yourself to put the feedback into action. For example, if a manager encourages you to work on your relationships with clients, set a goal to schedule coffee or lunch with a new client each month.
To properly give feedback:
- Come prepared. Think through how you plan to deliver the feedback to ensure you’re specific and constructive.
- Be solution-minded. Telling someone what they do wrong without sharing what they can do to improve can be a waste of everyone’s time – and leave the receiver of the feedback feeling down and unmotivated.
- Find the positive in the negative. The “sandwich” technique is a popular feedback method, where the giver of the feedback starts and ends with compliments and praise and uses the middle of the conversation to deliver the constructive criticism.