“The single best piece of advice I can offer right from the start is to always assume that there is room for improvement in everything you do.”ABE
Ken Blanchard once said “feedback is the breakfast of champions!” When we are in growth mode, all feedback should be considered good feedback; and yes, even the bits that are tough for us to hear at times. We cannot change what we are not aware of so the journey to success must include timely and candid feedback. The reality however, is that you must maintain an open mind and embrace the feedback provided if it is to be effective. The practice of listening with the aim of understanding and not simply to respond or offer excuses is difficult to master yet absolutely necessary for personal and professional growth.
Always Room For Improvement
“Treat feedback as a gift and not a slap in the face!”
Creating a feedback loop that forces you to constantly evaluate your own performance is an excellent place to start. To really see the benefits of this approach however, you must be prepared to take your head out of the clouds and ask yourself how well did you handled a situation? How well did you prepare that last report or delivered that last presentation? This can go a long way in helping to identify your strenghts and weaknesses and prove to be a winning recipe for success.
Another technique adopted by some businesses as part of their continuous improvement strategy is to conduct a SWOT analysis aimed at identifying the strenghts, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the company. This model holds true at a personal level as well, and would be another great place to start if you are looking to reposition your personal brand or realign your overall performance.
One of the simplest yet most powerful tools you can also explore as part of your growth strategy is a Personal Development Assessment. The objective of such an assessment is to identify any performance gaps or areas that may require your immediate attention. This can be in the form of an easy to execute digital survey, which incorporates three core components: your own personal view of your performance, feedback from a few specially selected peers and your leader’s perspective; all based on the same line of questioning. For this tool to be truly effective you must be mentally prepared to take action upon presentation of the findings. You see, many people have a view of their performance that in reality can vary significantly from the perception of others.
“Mistakes should be examined, learned from, and discarded, not dwelled upon and stored!”
It is never a good feeling when we make mistakes or mess up but it does provide a perfect opportunity to learn and grow. As a new Manager, I quickly understood the importance of obtaining feedback coming out of my first performance review as a member of the management team.
The move from supervisor to management not only came with greater responsibility but significantly increased expectations. Despite achieving all my performance goals that year, I left my performance review feeling like a complete failure. Ironically, while I was working to meet the set department goals, my manager was expecting me to step up and take the lead more. To be more proactive in sharing my ideas on how the department could be reformed. She also expected me to make decisions as though I was the one in charge, only escalating matters as necessary. But how was I supposed to know that? And wouldn’t that present a conflict if I overstepped my bounderies? What were my boundaries anyway? These were just a few of the many questions that surfaced in my mind as I left the meeting feeling like I did not deliver, despite my noticeable and significant contribution.
Of course this feedback sent me in a tailspin! I was floored and totally out of it for a couple days. Nevertheless, as part of my committed to succeed in the role, I picked myself up and arranged a follow up meeting with my manager because understanding her expectations was burning at the forefront of my mind.
That same day, I made a personal commitment which holds true to this day; to always function at a level that adds more value than required. Performing at a level above my contractual areas of reaponsibilities became my new norm and proved to be a winning strategy that fueled my career advancement.
The Benefit Of A Good Mentor
“The people that see the potential in you before you see it in yourself and when needed, remind you of the possibilities are the best to have around!”ABE
During my period of self-doubt as a young manager, I discovered how useful having a good mentor could be. Mentorship can take a formal or informal structure but either way, the relationship should provide you with honest and candid feedback, along with clear recomendations that aid the way you navigate situations in today’s constantly changing and fast-paced environment. Some mentors can turn out to be great and long-lasting friends; however, the best mentors are persons that care and believe in you, yet remain capable of being a true mentor first and friend second.
Embracing feedback as part of your committed to ongoing learning and development must remain part of your future growth strategy. The icing on the cake is finding yourself a really good mentor that is equally committed to both your personal and professional growth, while offering inspiration through their own actions and progress.