Face the Feedback…3

People-development converts payroll costs to asset-investment

2015-09-28 10.28.39 (2)

Post 3: Caleb and his mom, Josie, sat down for coffee that afternoon, when he was ready to share the prioritized development areas he had gleaned from his team’s feedback. “Okay, after my insanity passed, I realized that several of the things that I was rebelling against were really aligned to things I knew needed to be addressed or changed. I think I was just mad at myself for not fixing things before they told me about them. And several of the items are really around the same basic behavior, so if I can clean that up, perspectives will change on several fronts. And it helped to look at the low numbers and prioritize by the impact they would make on our results. So now I have three really important perspectives that I want to change, and two of those are process-driven; I can make a significant impact on both of them very quickly.

“But here’s the snag,” Caleb referred to a behavior his mother had seen since he was a toddler. “… and you know I’ve always had a challenge in this area. Now that I’m a leader, I have to fix it; I want to be trustworthy in this, but I have this fear that I’ll never be perfect. I’m just not wired to do this well.” Caleb really did look worried. His mother empathized with his struggle with this communication area; she also knew he must establish new habits if he expected to realize his career goals.

“I know you try, Caleb, and I agree that some of it is driven by your personality. Besides working on a specific, accountability plan with your mentor – like you’ve noted here – I think you’re going to need to be honest with your team. Let’s brainstorm some ways you could include them in a safe way; if you don’t, I’m afraid some of them may misinterpret future backsliding as dishonesty.” She knew the solution had to come from him or he wouldn’t make it happen.

It didn’t take long; both of them felt like the plan was reasonable, and Caleb felt like most of the team would be willing to genuinely help him. First, he’d tell them what he was going to work on and how he saw that indicated in the anonymous feedback they gave him. Then he’d ask for their ideas on how anyone working on this new habit might change; and he’d try to select a few of their ideas to incorporate into his strategy. He also wanted to ask for their help in reminding him of places to use the strategy or in respectfully giving him feedback when he fell short in his efforts. Josie added an additional suggestion that Caleb struggled with, but finally understood. Once a month he would ask the members of his team about his progress.

Josie shared her own experience before trying to describe the advantages of this last idea. “Caleb, I know it may seem humbling, but drawing their attention to the change is what helps change their perception. This will give them a chance each month to say out loud that they are seeing your progress. The way forward may not be a straight line; everyone has missteps. But, by staying engaged in this way, you can change your behavior, build their trust in your motivations, and improve their perception of your behavior in an area that is critical to the next steps of your career goals.”

Reality: How to give feedback is typically included in leadership development trainings. How to receive and act on the feedback given is not so commonly trained, but it can be critically important to how employees hear, believe and follow their leaders.


  • First, face and move through the natural emotions that often erupt after receiving feedback
  • Examine the data from the perspective of the respondents: what were the questions they were answering; how much of your actual work are they exposed to?
  • Examine the data from the perspective of your career and responsibility goals:
    • What did you honestly, already know to be true?
    • Are extreme skill gaps aligned to the responsibilities of your role; if you close the gaps will they drive results?
    • Are severe behavior changes realistic expectations from the audience that gave the feedback; if you change those perceptions will they drive results or accelerate your career goals; did an impactful percentage of people identify this gap?
  • Create a development plan – with accountabilities – that can be successfully implemented in the midst of your work chaos and priorities.
    • Partner with an experienced colleague or leader who can effectively advise on resources, strategies and accountabilities.
  • Giving gratitude and an update to the people who offered you feedback may spark a change in their perceptions:
    • Be appropriate and maintain their respect through your responses
    • Carefully consider team engagement on obvious behavioral gaps that impact them
      • Acknowledge the reality of your need to change the specific behavior; connect the need to desired business results
      • Ask for ideas they’d give a friend who needed to change in this area; try to incorporate a couple of their ideas into your practices
      • Find a way for them to safely & respectfully give real-time feedback from their perspective about the behavior you want to change:
        • How can they warn you that you may be about to ‘fall off the wagon’
        • How can they share with you their perception that you ‘missed the mark’
      • Regularly ask for their input on your progress; this often helps cement their perspective of your positive direction

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