The reason hearing the words “annual review” is often met with a collective groan may be because the idea of getting feedback is so closely associated feeling criticized. But in Influence Redefined: Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be, Monday to Monday, author and leadership mentor Stacey Hanke suggests that feedback is not something to fear, but something to actively seek. “Feedback presents opportunities to better yourself — opportunities you may not even be aware of,” Hanke writes.
To handle feedback like a pro, Hanke suggests following six steps.
1. Look for everyday opportunities. You do not need to wait for a review to learn how to improve your work. In fact, it is easier to make incremental adjustments on a regular basis than one big change once per year. “Soliciting feedback involves just a few minutes before and after a conversation, meeting, presentation, or even an email,” writes Hanke.
2. Go ahead, ask. Feeling nervous about a meeting or presentation? Ask a trusted colleague to give you feedback after. “Ask this person to watch for specific ineffective verbal and nonverbal behaviors you would like to change,” Hanke writes. “For example, ‘I’m trying to avoid beginning my sentences with the word ‘so.’ Please tell me what you hear.’”
3. Make it simple. “Focus on one behavior at a time,” Hank suggests. It can be difficult for mentors or colleagues to critique you on multiple areas at once. Additionally, asking for feedback on multiple items could make the critique feel overwhelming or dilute the information you receive.
4. Dig deeper. Avoid asking a mentor a simple question such as, “How did I do?” Instead, ask for specific examples of good or poor performance. “For example, ‘What behavior did I display that conveyed confidence (or whichever area you are seeking feedback about)?’” Hanke writes. If the person responds with a vague answer, push for a clear answer on your best qualities, as well as suggestions on how you can improve yourself.
5. Clarify. It is easy for someone’s feedback to become misconstrued. “Summarize to ensure you correctly heard the feedback you received,” Hanke suggests.
6. Assess the experience. Take time to process the critique and consider how to put suggestions into action. Think about how this feedback differed from your perception of yourself. “What will you change as a result of the feedback? How did you feel receiving this feedback?” Hanke asks.