No one’s perfect. Nevertheless, it can be tough to hear from a superior or peer that your work isn’t up to par. As embarrassing and demoralizing as it might be to receive feedback about room for improvement, you cannot allow that to derail your path to the C-Suite!
There’s tremendous value in a well-placed bit of constructive criticism, as long as you are able to keep the following in mind:
It’s not personal.
Really, it isn’t. I totally understand how easy it is to get defensive and resentful; it’s only natural to react instinctively to receiving less-than satisfactory information about yourself. But if you take a beat to just stop and hold back that knee-jerk facial expression or aggravated sigh, you’ll find yourself better able to process what you’re hearing more calmly-even if you don’t like what you’re hearing.
There’s a point to all this.
Once you’ve had a chance to control your response, you can then enumerate the benefits of constructive criticism- a better understanding of role responsibilities and expectations, a chance to improve your quality of work and strengthen work relationships, as well as an opportunity to prove your professionalism and desire to succeed.
It’s not about responding- it’s about listening.
Ask yourself- why might this person be telling me this? The overwhelming likelihood is, they’re not doing it to be a grouch. They care about your performance, and are giving you the necessary information you need to excel- because they’ve likely been in your shoes. Try to understand their comments and perspective, without overanalyzing it or turning it into a debate.
Yeah…. doesn’t sound pleasant. But, no matter how unhappy you might be to hear criticism, it’s incredibly important to thank the person for taking the time to level with you. Even if you don’t agree with their assessment of you, it shows that you appreciate and understand their feedback.
If you don’t understand, ASK.
Your conversation is an opportunity to further break down feedback into digestible information. Asking specific questions about issues and potential solutions, acknowledging responsibility, and identifying the scope of the criticism (is this an isolated incident?) are all key to a deeper understanding that helps you grow professionally. Not to mention, getting to the root of a problem is such a relief, as it can give you a roadmap to avoid any similar issues down the road.
Follow up as needed.
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT leave a conversation feeling as though you have zero insight going forward. If one conversation with a supervisor about your performance isn’t enough to paint a clear picture about what you should be focusing on, then it’s definitely a good idea to schedule a follow-up session. Even if you feel like you have a grasp on what needs doing, you can always spend the time talking about your progress against their suggestions. Like I mentioned above, it shows them you genuinely value their input and are actively trying to implement their feedback into your workflow.
I’m not saying all this as someone who hasn’t heard criticism before, or as someone who takes it like a saint. I’ve heard it from relatives, teachers, and employers my whole life, and I haven’t always been the most graceful at it. Hell, I’m still not. But I have a burning ambition to be the best young female professional I can be, and part of that is understanding the value of constructive feedback.
And if you don’t believe me, take it from Hillary Clinton!
What’s the most valuable piece of criticism you’ve ever received? Let me know in the comments below, or shoot me a message!
Keep it real,