Harnessing Feedback for Success

millenial receiving feedbackI hear it, read it, and know it. Millennials do love feedback, and we like it all the time. It’s the truth, I’ve embraced this stereotype and in turn used it to my advantage. By continuously asking for feedback it provides you direct insight on how you’re actually doing as well as how others perceive you; a career compass if you will. Guiding you back to the right course; showing you where you made your mistakes, when and how you did something right, and can help you grow.

That is, if you accept it with grace and dignity.

But how do you do exactly that? Susan Heathfield from gives one of the best “Here’s How” lists for receiving feedback while maintaining your poise.

  1. Drop the defense. Not all feedback is positive and that’s okay – this is when you truly grow. If you’re asking for it, welcome all of it. If you truly want to excel you will keep an open mind and you will let the feedback giver know you are open to any and all opinions.
  2. Put on your listening hat. Let the person talk without feeling inhibited from your body language or tone.
  3. When that person is done making a point, summarize and reflect – without judgment.
  4. If something doesn’t make sense, truly does not fit; then ask a question to clarify. Ask for an example.
  5. Get a second opinion. Some people see mannerisms in a different light than others.
  6. Create an action plan for yourself on what to do with the feedback you receive.
  7. And finally, show your appreciation. Send a thank you note to that person after the session, even if it went poorly.

Receiving feedback can be a difficult thing to do, however it can really help shape your development plan as well as give you a good idea of the gaps in your Personal Brand. So now what?

What to do with it

On the second day of the Leap Face2Face workshops, one of the sessions was focused on Harnessing the Power of Feedback. At SAP, many of our top talents are given the opportunity to participate in what’s called “360 Feedback.”

This is where your manager, as well as personally selected participants, are given the opportunity to review you. You are also a participant, rating your own style as you see it. At the end of the cycle you are given a Feedback Report where your perception of self is compared against what others really think of you.

This is a great tool, and even if you aren’t an SAP employee, you can administer something similar on your own.

Here’s how:

  1. Pick your participants. Identify 5 to 6 people, with a mix of both peers and senior colleagues who you work with frequently.
  2. Set up a half hour time that suits their schedule. Beforehand, send them the list of questions on your work, your style, your behaviors, and anything else that comes to mind.
  3. During that time ask for their feedback on the questions you provided them.
  4. Actively, and silently, listen. Take notes. Make sure your body language remains relaxed (even if furious)
  5. At the end, send a note thanking them for their time and honest feedback.

Compile all the information you have collected in these feedback sessions. Take a look at this data looking at the trends and then start working on your action plan. During the session, they asked the participants to keep in mind 8 golden questions:

  1. What are your key strengths? How can you leverage or enhance these strengths?
  2. What are your key development opportunities? What can you do to address them?
  3. What surprises you – both pleasantly and unpleasantly?
  4. Are there any patterns in the feedback?
  5. To what degree is there agreement between the respondent groups?
  6. What are the key messages from the direct reports? Primary and secondary managers? Colleagues?
  7. What should you investigate further to understand the feedback better?
  8. What are the 1-3 things you can do differently to be a better leader?

Once you’ve done all this, and asked yourself these 8 questions, you’ll be on a successful development path. Can’t wait to hear how it goes.

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