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Workplace Feedback: How To Make It "Work" For You

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‘Tis the season for performance feedback discussions.

If you work for a larger company, you may even get 360 degree feedback (feedback from your boss, your peers, and your team) which is a very helpful process and a great way to take those blinders off and clearly see how others identify your strengths and your weaknesses (the more gentle term is “areas for improvement”).

Since perception is reality, you have to be savvy enough to harness this information and create a plan to strengthen your weaknesses, as you will no doubt grow as a manager and leader.

So here are some guidelines to follow when receiving feedback, and how to progress forward:

1. Schedule your performance discussion to ensure you have plenty of time before and after the meeting. This time is valuable and you need to digest all you’ll hear, so keep your calendar free before and especially after as you don’t want to have to rush off to another meeting.

2. Listen to your manager with the emphasis on “listen”. Never get defensive, no matter what is said, and allow your manager to complete his/her sentences before you comment.

3. Make sure you participate, as this is a discussion. If the feedback rings true, tell you manager that you’d like to think about a development plan, and welcome any suggestions he/she may have. If you vehemently disagree, it’s ok to say you disagree (in a calm and professional tone), but use specific examples to back up your points, versus purely emotional responses.

4. Relax … if you’ve had a tough feedback session, it is not the end of the world. It’s actually a really good opportunity to evaluate what you’ve heard, and decide on next steps. It’s often helpful to share this information with a trusted friend, or a coach if you are lucky enough to have one, as they can offer more objective advice.

5. Proactively own your development plan. Identify actionable steps to improving your areas of weakness and determine a method for updating your boss on your progress. Perhaps you can speak to someone in Learning and Development, as there are plenty of on-line courses (or live courses if budgets haven’t been slashed as yet). In addition, there are personal growth books on every topic under the sun, so read away. You could also spend time with a mentor and get their opinion for how to strengthen any perceived weaknesses.

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Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio is a career coach and co-founder of SixFigureStart and has worked for the bluest of blue chips for the past 25 years. Her companies include Citigroup, Pfizer, and most recently as the COO of Campus Recruiting for Merrill Lynch. Connie also co-authors a career blog for Vault.com.

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