The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Feedback is Important for Growth

imagesRecently, I participated in a management assessment process for one of my corporate clients. The individuals being assessed were evaluated over the course of a full day as they participated in a variety of exercises designed to measure their performance against the company’s key competencies. Taking part in this process reminded me of the importance of input and feedback to success.

As I sat with my ratings partner and delivered feedback to the two individuals we worked with over the course of the evaluation process, I realized that although much of what we were telling them validated what they thought of themselves, some of what we shared with them was revelatory. In other words, I saw firsthand that providing constructive feedback about areas for growth allowed these individuals to see themselves more clearly and exposed blind spots that could otherwise have blocked their success.

While we all enjoy getting positive feedback and we know it can fuel continued high performance, not everyone is willing to acknowledge the power of constructive feedback. Understanding where your areas for growth lie can help you avoid the pitfalls and roadblocks to success that often plague leaders. Although our strengths will always be stronger than even our most developed weaknesses, knowing where our vulnerabilities lie can help us leverage our strengths more strategically. They can also inform our choices about who we hire so that we surround ourselves with people who are strong where we are weak.

There are many ways to gain feedback on performance. Although most companies do not give their employees access to a full day evaluation, those who are interested in learning more about themselves can do so in a variety of meaningful ways. There are formal 360 feedback assessments that many companies employ. Some are online tools and others are interview-based, but all provide a wealth of data about strengths, areas for growth and how others perceive you.

If your organization does not offer these types of opportunities – and many don’t, I suggest that you conduct your own mini-360 by asking for feedback from the people with whom you work. Begin by asking where your strengths lie and how you can better leverage them. Then move on to where your opportunities for growth may be. Some of the most useful questions are the ones we are most afraid to ask, such as “What would like you to see more/less of in me?” and “Where are my blind spots?” These questions will help you get a more complete picture of how you operate.

Regardless of whether you are lawyer with firm, a manager in a corporation or an entrepreneur, getting honest, direct feedback about what you do well and where your growth opportunities lie is a great way to ensure that you are as successful as you can be. Let us know how you have gathered feedback in the past and what that feedback has meant to your professional growth and development.