Exploring Leads to Sharing
In Part 1 of this article, which focused on exploring feedback, we provided some tips about how to get comfortable with the feedback and not be too defensive. As you explore and learn about your feedback, it will naturally lead you toward sharing the results with others. Whom should you share your results with and how should you do it?
Whom Should You Share Your Results with?
Whom you should share your results with will vary somewhat from person to person; however, there are questions you can ask yourself to help you make that determination. Just be aware that it may be useful to share with multiple people.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What do I hope to accomplish by sharing these results?
Do you want help to understand why you scored a certain way that is different from what you expected? Do you see what needs to change but aren’t sure what would be the best next step? Knowing what you hope to accomplish by sharing your results will help you determine who is in the best position to advise you.
- What advice might my manager give?
Your supervisor or manager obviously plays an important role in your career development, at least in your current organization. They also play a key role in determining titles and increased responsibilities and compensation. Giving them a window into your results and the opportunity to see you grow based on those results can be significant. They may also have a sense of other opportunities within the organization that would be a great fit for you as you grow. (It’s not always the case that the only move up is to take your manager’s job.)
- Whose opinion do I value or trust?
Do you have a mentor in the organization either formally or informally? Even if you don’t, is there somebody’s opinion that you really respect? This is a person you could ask to help you. In general, we recommend that you be more inclined toward sharing rather than keeping the results secret. The more people you share the results with the more perspectives you can get. You might provide the actual report to one or two people and then just share some specific points or ideas with others. Reviewing the results with others can help them feel more connected to you and more likely to feel invested in your success.
- Who is in a position to advise me well on these results and my intended actions, especially given my career aspirations?
Some people are in a better position to advise you than others. Typically, your manager is one of these people, but there might be somebody else who would be even better. While your current responsibilities are important, it is also important to consider people who have insight relative to where you want to go, not just where you are.
Ultimately, we highly recommend that you share your results with your manager. That will help make your manager an advocate for your growth in the areas that are most important to you, not just to your manager. You can decide whether conversations with others will help you prepare for a conversation with your manager or clarify your manager’s reactions.
Here are two points to note regarding not sharing with your manager.
- If you don’t feel like you can share with your manager for whatever reason, that might be a sign that you need to have a conversation with HR about why you can’t.
- If you don’t share with your manager but do share heavily with another person, that could create an awkward situation with your manager. Use caution if you don’t also share with your manager.
How to Share Your Feedback Results
In general, don’t share everything with everybody. Be selective. Focus your questions on the specific areas where you think the individual you are sharing with can best help. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with sharing your whole report with others, and it may be very useful to do so. Still, have a specific question for them. That way they are looking at the report to help answer your question, not to re-interpret it for you.
As mentioned above, we really think you should plan to share your results with your manager; however, this is intended as a meeting that you are requesting and leading. The intent is not that you go into the meeting and ask your manager to explain what the results mean. You should already have a good sense of that from the exploring phase that you did. You need to put in the effort to understand the results and have a plan. Then go into the meeting with the intent to accomplish four objectives:
- Share your understanding of the results.
- Seek clarification on any specific points of uncertainty or where your manager might be able to provide additional insight.
- Share your plan of action, based on your understanding.
- Seek your manager’s input on your plan.
Again, you may find it useful to discuss some aspects of your results with others before and/or after your discussion with your manager, but keep in mind that this is about your professional growth. They can provide additional insight but shouldn’t necessarily dictate what you do with the results. That doesn’t mean you just disregard what they might say, but it does mean that you give it a chance to sink in and either own it or let it go to focus on something else.
The Next Step – Action
If your organization approaches the feedback exercise with the intent that it be primarily for your benefit, which will ultimately benefit the company, then you should have a lot of say in what you decide to act on. And acting on your feedback will be the focus of the next article.