Negative Feedback: Is It Too Late to Change?

Feedback that criticizes your work can be difficult to accept yet, we’ve all had our fair share of it.

My focus this week reinforces the importance of putting feedback in its proper context.

Is It Too Late?

About a year ago, I was coaching an executive who received a fair amount of tough feedback from his 360 Feedback Report. At the conclusion of our review, he asked me “Is it too late?” I was slightly taken aback by his question given that we were crafting his personal development plan. I paused and asked him, “I don’t know. Is it?”

Yes. No. Maybe. It’s Up to You!

While that answer might seem a bit flip, it wasn’t. I explained to him that the ONLY way it would be too late is if he believed it was. He didn’t. We then discussed the importance of holding feedback as a gift from the universe, essentially a contribution, not a castigation. We agreed that many executives never get the chance to understand where they are effective and where they need to develop. Getting that insight from clients, directs, supervisors and/or peers is a huge advantage!

Acknowledge, and Then Change, the Behavior

It is first important to understand and acknowledge the behavior that is being questioned. Make sure they see that you are listening and are willing to receive hard feedback. Then, react with a plan to change that behavior.

With my client, we synthesized three new behaviors that would be mission critical to transforming his leadership style and worked tactically on each one. Throughout the process, I stressed the importance of presenting each new/evolved behavior also as a gift to someone. This point is critical in executive development. Present a transformed behavior as a gift to someone, expecting nothing in return. That’s the gift of the behavior.

The more clients and colleagues see and feel this new behavior the more they transform their feeling about you. Anticipating that certain behaviors might result in negative feedback is an even greater skill, one that will help you establish stronger relationships.

What behavior could you change to make you a greater partner to your clients and team? Let me know if I can help you discover it.