Being Strategic About Performance Feedback

One thing I know from my experience leading Performance Management & Career Planning at Deloitte is that most people dislike giving feedback. And it can be equally challenging on the receiving end if you disagree with someone’s point of view or don’t understand what their feedback really means. Despite the challenges, feedback can give you valuable insight about your leadership style and strong indicators about what others value.

If you aren’t taking advantage of opportunities to get input from others, here are three questions that may help you be more strategic in your approach:

1. What should I do more or less of?

If you’re like most people, you only focus on feedback when it’s that formal time in the performance management process. Beyond that, you may have little to no conversation about how others view your business results, strengths and areas for development. If this description fits you, set aside even just 15 minutes each month to share your results and simply ask what you should be doing more or less of to be more effective. It can go a long way and you might be surprised at what you find out.

2. How can I make it easier for others to give me feedback?

Be mindful of how you respond when others do give you their views, because it will impact whether they give you candid, constructive feedback in the future. Consider the following questions to help you do this:

  • How much do I focus on understanding the underlying issues or intent behind the feedback?

  • Approach the feedback from a sense of curiosity rather than judgment. Are you asking the right questions?

  • How much information do I share when responding to feedback?

  • Remember that although you may be merely trying to explain your actions or behavior to others, your comments could be perceived as defensiveness.

  • How well do I manage my emotions?

Visible anger, frustration, or tears can make anyone reluctant to give you feedback in the future. Recognize when you need to discontinue the conversation to allow yourself time to process the feedback.

3. How can I make the most of feedback I disagree with?

When I conduct 360 feedback interviews for my clients, I encourage them to focus less on whether the feedback is right or wrong and more on how it impacts their leadership effectiveness.

Remember that when there are different views of your performance, a skill gap may exist or a communication issue may exist. In other words, you may need to more consistently communicate how you are making a difference and your results.

In either case, what can you learn from the feedback? What action do you want to take as a result? And how will you follow up with people who have given their input so they know you’ve taken it seriously and can support you going forward?

Don’t forget that feedback is all about perception, and understanding that perception can give you valuable insight to make strategic changes. Before you dive into the rest of your week, identify one step you will take to get or share information about your performance. You never know where it might lead.


© 2012 Neena Newberry | All rights reserved.