I’m reading a fascinating book, Practice Perfect. The sub-title is what captured my attention: 42 Rules to Get Better at Getting Better. That’s all I needed to read to buy the book. Admittedly, I’m a continuous improvement junkie – leaders usually are.
This morning, I read Rule #23 – it hit me as a big idea. So much so, I decided to write about it here. You would probably assume a book on getting better would have something to say about feedback; you are correct. However, the simplicity and common sense of this rule was staggering…
Practice USING Feedback (Not Just Getting It)
As I read this I just sat there thinking. “Do I apply the feedback I receive?” How about you?
Think about your past behavior – what percentage of the feedback you’ve received has changed your behavior? As leaders, we must see feedback as a gift – and we must apply it if we want to continue to grow.
Here are three common responses to feedback:
We deny any truth in the feedback and reject it.
We accept the feedback graciously and then do nothing with it.
We embrace it and change our behavior as a result.
If you’re interested in applying more of the feedback you receive, here are a few ideas that may help.
Pinpoint ONE or TWO specific changes you’ll make as a result of the feedback. We can all become overwhelmed when we’re trying to improve. I think about my experience with golf. I’ve taken a few lessons over the years and have become socially proficient. Although there are scores of things I could do to improve my golf game, the instructors I’ve worked with always wanted me to focus on a few things. As I improved, they would give me something else to work on. Sometimes we’ll have a coach or instructor to narrow our focus; most of the time, we’ll have to do that for ourselves.
Apply the feedback as soon as possible. I had a speech coach attend an all-day training session I was conducting. On breaks, she gave me feedback and I tried to incorporate her suggestions during the very next session. It was a tremendous learning opportunity for me. I’m guessing it would have lost some value if I told her I would try to respond to her feedback a month later.
Find someone you trust to serve as an accountability partner. If you really want to apply the feedback you receive, tell someone what you’re going to do differently as a result of the feedback. More specifically, tell them what you’re going to do, by when. Ask them to check back with you to see how you’re doing. If you’ve not tried something like this, you may be surprised how effective it can be.
Look back at the last feedback you received, if you haven’t already, it’s not too late to apply it!
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