The data is clear: In the workplace, regular, effective feedback results in more-engaged, harder-working and, at times, more-profitable, employees. In fact, in a Harvard Business Review study, 92% of respondents said that even redirecting, or negative feedback, if delivered properly, can improve performance.
But while “a manager hopes to find a receptive and open employee on the other end of feedback given,” even those with the hardiest of egos can have a hard time accepting feedback from a boss or manager, says Deena Goodman , a career coach focused on executive presence.
So how can new employees, perhaps not as used to having their work product under review, take potentially negative feedback in stride? “Typically, I always coach clients to remain interested in feedback,” says Goodman, “listen mindfully and appreciate the opportunity for growth.”
Avoid Becoming Defensive
It’s human nature to want to defend ourselves in the face of criticism. But while “questioning to probe examples of positive and negative behaviors is fine, defensiveness is not,” says Sharon Jautz, director of talent acquisition at Sandow Media. “If the feedback is negative, it’s important that the employee communicates that he or she completely understands expectations moving forward.”
Own the Issue
Whether it’s improving your Powerpoint skills, or speaking up more in conference calls, managers want to know that the time they take to provide feedback will result in changes on the part of the employee. To convey this, avoid nodding your head and walking out the door at the end of your one-on-one. Instead, “acknowledge the feedback as valuable, show insight and ownership and point to where and how you might work to create change,” says Goodman.
Take Some Time To Reflect
On the other hand, if you are the impulsive type, a bit of restraint might make more sense. Few managers will frown on your taking the time to absorb the feedback you’ve been given before coming up with an action plan. “Don’t feel the need to reply immediately if you are taken off guard,” says Kristan Clark Burba, founder of Rendezvous Event Management. ‘It’s always perfectly okay to say ‘I hear what you are saying, and do you mind if I take a little time to digest your thoughts and think about ways I can address that or improve upon that?’”
Ask For Clarity
Even the most seasoned executives can become a bit obtuse when providing feedback. If there is a point made that doesn’t sit right with you, ask for clarity. Goodman suggests following this script: “I appreciate this feedback. I am always looking to grow but there is one point that you have made that stands out to me and I would love some more clarity.”
In the end, its important to remember that feedback is a vehicle to get you and your employer on the same page. “It’s all about building a team, and coming up with systems that allow employer and employees to succeed,” says Burba. “Since everyone does things differently and sees things differently, constructive conversations are integral to making it all work and getting everyone working towards the same goals.