Recently, I received the results from a 360 leadership feedback assessment. If you’ve participated in a 360 before, you’ll know that this means I, in an anonymous way, asked for feedback. It was aggregated and shared with me to increase self-awareness and for the purpose of my development. It was easy to ask for input, but hard to receive it – hard because it contained some constructive feedback that I did not want to hear. I can’t say it was a surprise – but it was challenging. After receiving it, I had a choice – accept and learn from this feedback or throw it aside saying, “these people do not know what they’re talking about.”
If like me, you’ve been lucky enough to receive comprehensive feedback – like in a 360 or some other way – you have received a huge gift. You asked your colleagues, friends, and family members to give input for your own learning. They invested their valuable time and took – what for many people feels like – a significant personal risk to give it to you. Upon receiving it, you had the same choice I did – to learn from their feedback or to waste it. Sounds like an easy choice, but we all know accepting feedback gracefully, is easier said than done. It’s intellectually simple and behaviorally complex; especially when you don’t agree with the feedback you’re being given.
The first challenge is simply accepting the feedback that is being offered to you as the reality or the lens through which other people view you. People deal with you based on how they perceive you, not on the way you think they should. If you accept their constructive criticism or critical feedback with that in mind, you will be starting to deal with your actual reality and not the reality you wish you had. This will give you a realistic platform to begin developing yourself.
An often missed component of a 360 is how you respond to the people who gave you feedback. I suggest the following do’s and don’ts:
Do say thank you. You asked your community for feedback and they gave it to you. Say thank you.
When you’ve taken some time to metabolize all the feedback and decided what you’re going to work on, Do follow up with the people who gave you feedback. Let them know what one or two things you’re going to be working on from all the feedback you received. It might sound something like this: “Based on all of the feedback I received, I’m going to be working on managing my own defensiveness.”
Do invite them into your self-development. It should be totally at their discretion, but a heartfelt ask can go a long way. This might sound like, “While I’m working on managing my own defensiveness I would love if you would tell me when you think I hit or miss an opportunity to demonstrate my new behaviors.
Don’t ever go back and try and figure out who said what. Doing so will not help you and it jeopardizes the very nature of confidential feedback for everyone. Said another way, if you harass people who give feedback, they won’t be willing to give it to you or others in the future.
Don’t defend yourself by pointing out where the feedback you received might be wrong. If ever there were a situation to approach with complete lack of defensiveness, this is it. This feedback is purely for your learning, just accept it. You don’t have to agree with it, but accept that this is how others view you.
Over time, you’ll have the opportunity to change how others view you. Like many things in life, only time, dedication, and hard work will help them see you differently.