Act on Feedback
We have discussed how to explore and share feedback. Now it is time to act on the feedback. In Part 2 of this article, we discussed sharing your feedback with others. The act of sharing is the first step in acting on the results; however, it is not enough to make a meaningful difference. Others, particularly those who gave you feedback and those with whom you shared your results, should also see some change and growth in you. That doesn’t necessarily happen overnight.
The fact that you met with somebody and discussed your results is a win in and of itself. It is common to feel hesitant or worried about what they might think of you. The good news is that you let your desire for growth supersede any fear you may have had. That bodes well for you; however, it becomes even more important for them to then see you make tangible progress on whatever you determined you were going to work on. Otherwise, they’re going to feel like they wasted their time with you.
Growth Can be Hard and Take Time
Obviously, growth can be hard. That’s likely part of the reason why you find yourself in the position you are in. You may have fallen into a routine, which isn’t necessarily bad. A routine can save you from thinking about various tasks while still being competent in your work. However, it can then lead you into a rut and discourage you from taking steps that could make you outstanding.
If you truly are in a rut, it will likely take time to break out of it or at least convince others that you have. If you’ve ever driven or walked along a rut, you know that by their very nature, without intervention, they will grow deeper. A rut in a dirt road gets deeper every time water runs down it and erodes more dirt. It will be even worse if cars continue to drive where gravity would naturally take them. Drivers need to make a concerted effort to avoid the ruts, and additional effort is necessary to divert water from continuing down the same path. In a similar way, it will take time for you to pave new paths and for others to recognize the new normal.
Considering that change doesn’t happen overnight, what can you do to pull yourself out of the rut? Create ways that make you accountable for following your action plan. (Managers: we don’t encourage tying this to compensation, but that’s a whole separate discussion.) Here are three steps you can take to help you act on the feedback you have received:
- Schedule a meeting 3 to 6 months in the future with your manager or the person with whom you shared your results.
- Plan on a follow-up 360, such as a pulse survey, to get additional feedback on how you have been doing.
- Get an action partner.
Some changes may happen more quickly than others. Knowing that you will be meeting with somebody to discuss and review your progress on goals from your action plan can help keep you motivated to work on them. You need enough time for the change to become visible and to be sure that it is sticking. A 3-month checkup can be good to make sure you are making progress and are on the right track. A 6-month checkup can ensure the change is sticking.
Like the checkups, planning on a follow-up survey 6-12 months later can serve a similar function in motivating you, because you know that others will be giving you feedback on that specific point. A pulse survey can be a really nice approach in this case. Rather than asking everything from the original survey, you get feedback on a handful of questions related to your specific area of focus.
An action partner is like an accountability partner for weight loss or working out; however, I like the term “action partner” more than “accountability partner”, because that is our focus at this point: action. Ask a peer or mentor to be your action partner rather than your manager, because you’ll be better able to focus on action rather than potentially trying to get everything perfect to share with your manager. Plan little actions you will take throughout the week or month and share them with this person. Then review whether you did them as you start the next week or month. These little steps will create those moments that people see and begin to reshape their perception of you.
Pulling All Three Parts Together
Feedback is a powerful tool when we explore, share, and act as stated in our three-part article (please review Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them). Get curious with your feedback—curious enough about how you can best use the feedback you receive to achieve your career aspirations. Then share your results and your plans going forward with others, especially with your manager. These people will become your allies in the process and will see the growth firsthand. Finally, act on your plans. Implementing ways to keep yourself accountable are key to success. Action is what will make the difference in how others perceive you.
The best part of all this is that regardless of what you are working on, you can change others’ perceptions of you so that they see you as somebody with a learning and growth mindset—somebody who is willing to accept and act on feedback. This is very doable and will help open doors for your career and even inspire others to look into their own development.
Six Guiding Principles for Receiving Feedback