Everyone approaches year-end performance reviews hoping to get positive feedback, approval, and let’s be honest, a raise.As an employee, what if I told you there’s one unexpected goal you should have for your performance review that’s far more important than all those things combined?
There is, and it’s proactively seeking negative feedback.
Yep, that’s right – you should be craving and asking for negative feedback, or should I say “constructive feedback”.
You learn far more from your failures than your successes.If you only got positive feedback, you would stay exactly the same – and if you’re truly not making any mistakes in a position, it’s probably not challenging enough for you.Reflect individually on your weaknesses and missteps, and seek objective perspectives on yourself from your manager and colleagues as well.
You’ll be seen as a leader.The top leaders have a strong sense of self-awareness.Being a leader isn’t about getting everything perfect, it’s about being conscious of your strengths and weaknesses, then working hard (and smart) to get better.Collecting constructive feedback is key to exposing blind spots you might not see yourself, so you can improve.If you just got accolades and high fives all day, are you really growing? Probably not.If you see yourself in an upper management or executive position, you need to get used to receiving negative feedback gracefully.
And listen, giving negative feedback isn’t easy.I have to do it all the time as the Founder of my firm and it’s rarely a simple conversation.Most managers struggle with it because it can be downright uncomfortable, depending on how you take it as an employee.By being receptive and grateful for negative feedback, you put your manager at ease which allows them to be comfortable giving you a full-spectrum evaluation, rather than only sharing the positives.
The best managers celebrate your strengths while shining light on your weaknesses so you can improve upon them.If you never get negative feedback, it’s either because your manager feels you can’t handle it, or because your job is too easy and you need more of a challenge.How you take constructive feedback dictates whether or not you’ll receive it.If you take it poorly, your manager is less likely to share it, and that may stunt your growth and ultimately lead to termination, to be blunt.Negative feedback is the cornerstone of professional development, and you need to get really comfortable hearing it.
But how do you do that? Getting critiqued is really hard. You are human, after all, right?
Here’s how to train yourself to take constructive feedback and use it to grow…
Celebrate your accomplishments before performance reviews.Acknowledging all the great things you’ve done over the past year will put you in a positive mindset and decrease your chances of slipping into a negative headspace.Take 15 minutes before your review to write down and mentally feel joy and gratitude for all your accomplishments over the past year.If you have a close colleague or two, you could even get together before your reviews and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.
Assume you will receive negative feedback, and mentally prepare yourself for it.It might not ever feel super easy, but you can always prepare for it by simply acknowledging that it’s a part of life, and crucial for your personal and professional growth.Anticipate it by writing down the negative feedback you would give yourself, and what you expect your manager might say.Remember, this isn’t about beating yourself up, it’s about growing and learning.
Practice listening and responding, rather than reacting.Do not jump in and defend yourself when your manager is giving you feedback.In fact, it’s best to keep quiet until they’re done, and you may not want to comment at all, because you might react rather than responding.Thank your manager for the feedback and restate it briefly to let them know you understand what they’re saying. Then take 3-5 days to process it, and after that, if you still feel the need to gain clarity on it or get clear on action steps you can take to improve, set up a brief meeting with your boss.Your intention should always be to fully understand the critique so you can get better, not prove that your manager is wrong and you’re perfect.
Are you surprised to hear that you should be seeking negative feedback from your manager at review time?Have you already mastered receiving constructive criticism, or is it something you could work on? Either way, share your thoughts with us – we can’t wait to hear your perspective on this important subject.