Receiving feedback

July 1, 2001
Kimberly A. Farrell
Kimberly A. Farrell

Kimberly A. Farrell is the CEO of Los Angeles based Unlimited Performance Training(R) Inc. UPT(R) is an educational services corporation specializing in integrated and blended instructor-led and virtual learning and development programs for executives in healthcare. For more information send requests to: information@UPTraining.org or call (800) 877-5755.

Pharmaceutical Representative

The art of reception.

Feedback: Ken Blanchard refers to it as the "Breakfast of Champions." So, how come we suddenly aren't hungry when our "breakfast" arrives?

Feedback comes at different times: sometimes in a formal setting where we anticipate it (performance reviews), and sometimes in the lobby of a hotel. The communicator of the feedback is sometimes gifted, and sometimes clumsy. But the overall intention is the same. Something should continue to happen, or something should be looked at for change. Below I have categorized four different areas of feedback and strategies for having a great "breakfast meeting."

Four kinds of feedback

Ready or not! This is the kind of feedback that broadsides the recipient because it is contrary to the results, conversations, perceptions and experiences of the listener.

Receiving ready-or-not feedback: Stay composed. Listen actively. Rephrase statements that feel overwhelming to give you additional time to clarify them. Ask for examples. Look for behavior patterns. Try to hear the concerns underlying the delivery of the information presented. If you find yourself very emotionally upset by the input, let the person giving you the feedback know you are surprised and concerned by this new information. Ask if you can take some time to think it over before you respond. Set an appointment to follow up on the feedback.

Pins and needles. This is the kind of feedback that you know is coming. You had a lousy turnout at a very expensive speaker program you planned for two months, you were unprepared for a district presentation, you did a poor job presenting the new sales aid or your expense reports are three months late.

Receiving pins-and-needles feedback: Get a jump on it. If your expense reports are late, don't be a sitting duck; take next Saturday and get them done, then let your manager know the bundle of reports is coming his or her way. Apologize. Let your manager know why they got out of hand, and that you have found ways to avoid this problem in the future. Avoid expending all your energy worrying about your manager approaching you with the conversation - take the lead. Your manager will respect you for being able to self-coach and demonstrate your maturity by being accountable for your mistakes, learning from them, and moving on!

Pat on the back. This is the best kind of feedback to receive from your manager. Enjoy it! Listen intently! Many times people are so enthusiastic about the feedback that they forget to really hear why the manager was so pleased with the work completed. Don't interrupt. Allow him or her the time and space to congratulate you.

Receiving pat-on-the-back feedback: This is a great time to ask clarifying questions on what, specifically, the manager appreciated most about the way you approached, implemented or delivered on the goals you achieved. Hearing complimentary adjectives is nice, but understanding what behavior, skill or talent they are acknowledging is important to your ability to duplicate the success next time. Thank your manager for taking the time to let you know how much your results were appreciated, and let him or her know the positive feedback was very motivating for you to hear.

Helping hand. This is the kind of discussion your manager leads when he or she is concerned that projects or goals are not being completed correctly or on time. Managers will ask questions in the conversation to clarify your skill and experience level in handling the task.

Receiving helping-hand feedback: Avoid getting defensive. Your manager wants to uncover your competency in the project at hand to determine how to coach you through the process successfully. Let him or her know what you are concerned about. Tell him or her where you could use more insight, ideas or support. Managers don't read minds, just sales figures. It is in everyone's best interest that you perform well on the job. Let your manager know you are glad to be on the same team, thank him or her for taking time to coach and support you, take notes, and then follow through!

Feedback in any form is an indication that people care about you and your performance. Use feedback as a compass to help you find your path to great professional success. Knowing which direction to head and how to expend your energy increases your chances of arriving at your destination ahead of schedule. PR

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