Tuesday, 5 January 2010

We all suck at Feedbacks - Part 2/4 . The Reaction

Continuing with our series on Feedback from the previous post we went through how to accept feedback. What is important is the reaction to the feedback. Many of us after accepting feedback don’t know what to do and how to do it... Here are a few things that may help you post receiving a feedback.

1. You asked for it, you got it so don’t crib

Feedback usually comes as a periodic output of an expectation. Usually the receiver of the feedback is the one who asks for it. Objective is very clear “How can I do well? Better? More?” Now the human nature doesn’t let us listen to criticism that easily. You always see a complain box in front of a government office, asking for feedback. I for fun once put a note in it criticizing the way the work was carried in that department. Next the “complain/feedback box” was removed. The common ways the feedback's are reacted are:

a. Ignore – By not listening, thinking or understanding the objective of it.

b. Over react - Thinking it is personal

c. Quit – Trying to run away from the feedback or the person giving it

d. Defend – for things that you clearly need to work on

We sometimes forget it was us who asked for the feedback....

2. Your body language speaks more than your words

During one of the feedback session while the Manager was giving the “Knowledge Doses” to the employee the employee kept looking at the pictures in the office, at the marriage ring of the Manager, at the laptop screen.

Once a Manager was giving criticism lessons of how a call centre executive should handle angry customers, the CS executive begged to differ and started arguing on every incident recorded, made faces and finally walked out.

An employee listened to the Boss , took the feedback, positively went out of the office onto his desk and with full fury started throwing things haywire, unlucky enough that the Boss walked right behind him to tell him that his promotion anyways is due that month ;)

An eye to eye contact, a sincere attention to the speaker, a calm body, a smiling face trying to adapt to the situation is a good foundation to the constructive feedback and professional career. During and after the feedback a sensible way to react is to try and list down what needs to be done.

3. Defence is the best offence, but only if you know what you defend

Every time we receive criticism we try to defend.. if the Boss says “You could have done this better” you say “Yes but that’s because you had X, Y and Z problems”. Your boss says “You should have done it this way” you return “No, this is how I was told to do“ blah blah. Defence is good, but only if you know what you are defending. A defensive approach during feedback is the offensive approach... it lets you go away from the core objectives. Never take a defensive step, listen adapt figure out what to do.

4. It’s all about perception?

Feedback is nothing but a summary of the personal and public perceptions. Your Boss’s opinion based on his perception considering your personal approach and how people see it. You may be doing all the right things but they may not be the rightest one in other people’s opinion. It’s about perceptions. The best way to handle this part of the feedback reaction is to read and not the perceptions and list down how you can improve them.

5. Your feedback is not to prove but perceive

The best thing to do after a feedback is to not prove that someone is right and someone is wrong. It is to perceive and not prove. I remember an incident that happened today. We asked one of our customers in a meeting about their feedback about our web application, the customer was honest and frank and he said “It is very slow”, The first thing that came from a developer sitting by my side was “It may be the browser, internet connection, etc etc.” We chose to say that we would like to check the same thing and get back to you. The right thing to do this is to summarize the feedback items and from time to time go back to your Manager and tell him on what you have worked on and what you are working on.

6. Mr. Good boy or Mr Grumpy?

Arrogant or Grumpy will never get you feedback again. Keep the attitude to yourself.

As much as feedback is important in our path to learn and grow it is similarly important that you react with the spirit of feedback. Remember the feedback is given to let you improve, learn and grow.