In the first Integrating Feedback with Skill and Grace post we outlined the 3 key steps for integrating feedback about your performance:
- Work with what you’ve heard
- Prepare for the next meeting
- Meet again
Last week, we looked closely at the second step Prepare for the Next Meeting and today we’re going to focus on the final step:
Step 3. Meet Again
By now, you should have finished the first two steps of the process of integrating the feedback. The final step involves a follow-up meeting with the person who delivered the feedback.
How you behave in the follow up meeting is critically important. Taking responsibility when it’s yours, asking for more information when you need it and demonstrating your investment in learning are central to moving forward. Remember, as a professional, you want to discuss the feedback while in “neutral” so that you can hear what is being said without an emotional charge. Leave your emotions at the door when you enter the meeting.
Start the meeting by thanking them for their time and then get to the information that you have been working on. First, share with them the pieces of the feedback that you understand, and share how you plan to tackle the behaviors that have been experienced as problematic. For instance, “I’ve been reflecting on the feedback that I’m experienced as impatient and a bulldozer in meetings. I realized that I’m often running from one meeting to another and can seem impatient because I am running late for the next meeting. In light of this feedback, I realize that I need to create a time cushion around meetings so that I’m not jettisoning from one meeting to the next and have time to slow down and work with the group to come to a decision.”
You should then confirm that this sounds like a reasonable approach and that you will look to him/her for continued feedback on whether or not your behaviors are being successful.
After responding to the feedback that you agree with and have solutions for you should discuss any feedback you don’t understand or don’t agree with. You might say something like, “This next bit of feedback is certainly valuable, but it doesn’t fit my experience. I would appreciate some examples of the instances when this has been an issue. I’m not trying to dodge responsibility here, it’s just that without examples, I’m not sure where to begin to adjust my behavior.” The goal here is to get more specific information that will help you understand the feedback and allow you to determine how to respond.
In most instances, they will readily describe examples or share a story about a time when the behavior was played out. Occasionally though, they won’t have any examples to share and they will simply repeat the original feedback, which can be very frustrating. During these interactions you have to be careful not sound defensive and yet you must also work to gain understanding of the problem at hand. You might say something like, “Without examples, it’s tough for me to know how to change my behaviors. For my part, I honestly can’t come up with any instances where this has been true but I will do my best to stay aware of this concern as I go forward.” Again, confirm that this is a reasonable response.
The most difficult response and the most surprising is when there are no examples to share but instead you are told, “it’s nothing anyone can put their finger on, but people experience it when they are around you.” This type of feedback is vague and it requires that you get very serious, very quickly to determine the issue. For example, if people feel “put down” around you or if they feel “uncomfortable” around you then you need to figure out what you are doing and make behavioral adjustments immediately. Vague feedback about how people experience you is very important because it often indicates that you are losing the respect of others. Whether you agree with the feedback or not, it’s really important to try to get a better sense of this in an ongoing way since without respect you lose credibility and that will undermine your success.
Whatever the outcome, at the end of the meeting thank them again for their time, ask them to let you know if they hear any other concerns, and ask if you can check in from time to time to ensure you are succeeding in your efforts.