Feedback. In my mind, it’s a four-letter word spelled G-I-F-T. I will admit most of us do not wake up in the morning shouting, “hooray! Today I get to give or get feedback!” On the contrary, we toss and turn the night before, dreading the sound of the alarm, knowing what’s ahead of us. Developmental feedbackwhether you’re delivering it or receiving it—is a must for any leader seeking selfimprovement or team excellence. Embrace it.
To be honest, I have not always felt this way about feedback, but over time I have grown to understand the power that this eight-letter word carries. I can remember many years ago someone saying, “Sondra, I would like to give you feedback on xyz.” Before that person had finished, I had lined up all the reasons that proved that person wrong. I had rationalized the feedback away. I was so busy preparing my rebuttal that I did not really hear most of what that person was saying!
It wasn’t until I took on my first leadership role and had my first tough employee performance problem that I realized the importance of owning the feedback. No matter what I said, that tough employee rationalized my feedback away. After several sleepless nights, it dawned on me that I had displayed some of the same behavior earlier in my career. I went in the next day with a new understanding and passion for the power that feedback could provide. I worked with our human resources experts to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to help not only my team but also myself.
Seeking and embracing feedback are sometimes easier said than done. I would ask you to just listen to feedback and let it soak in. Then, when you are ready, start asking questions and developing your response, if appropriate. If you model and live by this, your team will see it and follow your lead. And perhaps one day you will wake up and say, “Hooray! Today I get to ask for and give feedback. What a great gift!”