Getting Feedback is more Important than Giving Feedback

Getting Feedback is more Important than Giving Feedback

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I am a person who doesn’t handle criticism well. I don’t like to be told that I am not doing something well, or that I messed up. I like to think that I do all things well, and that because I care and try my best that I am always doing things the right way. The truth is that I am just as flawed as anybody else and my own strengths blind me to my weaknesses.

Hearing feedback from coworkers, and especially subordinates, is not an easy thing to seek out. We would rather go through life believing that we are doing things right than to have to face the fact that sometimes we make mistakes and fall short of meeting expectations.

The sooner that we get feedback, the quicker we can correct problems. We need to be open to criticism and be willing to learn from our mistakes and failures. Every failure is an opportunity for growth and even greater success, if we are willing to learn from our mistakes.

So how do we go about getting feedback from our co-workers and subordinates? We need to get past our own egos and insecurity. We need to realize that the only way we grow as an individual is to step outside ourselves, admit our own frailties, and ask those we trust to give us honest and sincere feedback. We need to have the strength to allow ourselves to stand spiritually naked before others and have them point out our warts and defects.

This isn’t easy, and I am by no means so brave as to think I would easily submit to this type of dressing down, but I know it is the only way to truly grow. We must be willing to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and hear things that we would rather turn away from, ignore, and never deal with. Mediocrity is built upon complacency, but greatness is built upon strength, courage, and humility.

Always seek out the input of people you trust and respect. Ask them to give you an honest appraisal of both the things you do well and the things they think you don’t do so well or you could improve on. Let them know that they won’t hurt your feelings and that you are seeking input in order to grow and become a better manager and human being. Find both fellow managers and employees that you trust and know will be honest with you. By seeking input from others you will put yourself on a path to accelerated growth, and you will build stronger relationships with those that you work with by allowing yourself to be vulnerable with them and showing them that you trust them.

Gather around yourself people who will be honest with you and give you a fair appraisal of your performance. Avoid yes-men (or women). Be wary of anybody who tells you exactly what you want to hear. Pull into your circle of influence those people who challenge you and respectfully tell you when you are wrong.

No matter how successful you are in any project, or how right you feel in any action, take the time to tap into your circle of trust to seek feedback for as to how they view your progress. It is too easy for us to only see the good we do. Often, even in our finest moments, there are areas where we could have done something better. We cannot see how our actions impact other areas and other people. We need to always seek out input from outside ourselves to give us that perspective that can only come from external sources.

Our greatest assets are the opinions and insights of trusted coworkers and subordinates who are willing to give us their honest feedback. Their insights can save us from our hubris, ego, and blind spots. We need to seek the views from outside ourselves to keep us honest, humble, and grounded. The perspective of other people is a necessary ingredient to being a good, fair, and humble manager.

Seeking feedback is more important than giving feedback. When we give feedback we are trying to tell people how they are doing from our perspective. When we seek feedback we are asking others to help us improve ourselves. We are allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, to be open to improvements, to be humble and honest with ourselves. Receiving feedback and acting on it can only serve to make us better managers and ultimately better human beings.

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