How to Receive Feedback
Updated: Mar 16
Employees are wanting feedback more than ever; 96% of employees want to hear feedback regularly. The demand for feedback has far surpassed once-a-year reviews; employees want feedback weekly. Despite the increased demand for feedback, some employees may find receiving feedback to be challenging or discouraging. For feedback to be effective, it must be constructive, consistent, factual, and unbiased. Some employees find it tough to hear they have things they can improve on, even if the feedback is effective. Although many employees may dread feedback, it is critical to progress your career.
In this article, we outline some tips on how to best receive feedback to ensure career growth and success.
1) Pre-review yourself
Many employees can fear feedback - they see it as a negative conversation with a manager about what they have been doing wrong. To avoid the negative connotation that is associated with the word 'feedback', it can help to pre-review yourself before a check-in with a manager. Reflect on your performance - what you believe you have been doing well or where you think you have room to improve. It can be beneficial if you are aware of what your manager may want to discuss (don’t be afraid to ask for an agenda). Remember that the purpose of pre-review is to not hyper focus on your negative performance but focus on (i) your positive contributions to the organization so that you can better interact and discuss your actions during your check-in while having a positive outlook and (ii) what you can improve on to help your professional and personal growth.
2) Assume positive intent and actively listen
Most people give feedback to help an individual; it can be helpful to remind yourself that the feedback is given with good intentions. When someone is offering their time to give you an insight into your work, active listening is crucial to show your respect, as well as to understand and absorb the information they are offering. Active listening means you let either your manager or peer give you the feedback entirely- you don’t interrupt, you actively take in the information, and you clarify any misunderstandings. If you are concentrating and absorbing their insight instead of immediately getting defensive, you will be able to comprehend their reasoning and better understand where you can improve to be successful. The amount of time we are distracted, preoccupied, or forgetful when listening is up to 75%! We should be actively listening since this feedback is most likely being provided to improve your performance. Not only does active listening allow the speaker to better communicate with you, but it provides a better opportunity to better understand the problem and collaborate on a solution together.
3) Ask questions
Asking questions about the feedback you received allows you to clarify any unclear information or doubts you may have. This does not mean that you question their opinion, but you clarify what they meant if you feel unsatisfied or unclear. This allows you to get advice and or ideas for your next steps on how to better improve.
Some examples of clarification questions to feedback:
“When you mentioned that I was not clear enough to the team when stating my proposal, did you want further details within my presentation or a more in-depth summary?”
“You mentioned that I sometimes disregarded a team member's opinion in our team meeting, next time would you suggest waiting to hear everyone’s opinion before inserting myself in the conversation to better listen to others?”
“When you stated that my sales have been down since last month, would you suggest I change my approach? Do you have any particular strategies you would suggest I try to improve?”
Asking questions helps make sure that both you and the individual providing the feedback are on the same page.
4) Show appreciation
As hard as it may be to receive feedback, it can be just as hard to deliver feedback to employees. In fact, 44% of managers believed that giving developmental feedback was stressful and/or difficult, and 21% of managers admitted that they avoided giving developmental feedback. Acknowledging that someone is taking time out of their day to provide feedback on your work is crucial to keep the cycle of receiving feedback. Although it is encouraged that managers give continuous and frequent feedback to their employees, it is not required within many companies. Therefore, showing appreciation can reassure a manager that this is something that can help with performance and encourage them to continue.
5) Decide your plan of action: next steps
Reflecting, interpreting, and applying the feedback can considerably be the most important step in receiving feedback. Deciding the steps you may need to take, whether it be working on communication, increasing your engagement in meetings, or a strategy to improve your overall performance, is important. Being aware of your mistakes can be meaningless if you do not take action to improve them. It can help to create a list of strategies and action items - you can ask your manager for help on these steps as well. You can also consider requesting feedback often to help ensure that you are making the right progress in improving your performance.
What is the biggest challenge for you when receiving feedback? - Let us know!