Turning Feedback into Action

The last time your manager offered feedback on a project, presentation, or as part of your performance review, what did you do with that information? Did you ignore it and move on, or did you consider how to use it to get ahead? A recent poll finds that only 14% of employees strongly agree that a performance review inspires them to improve.

That’s a problem. Accepting and acting on manager feedback could separate you from your colleagues and show that you have the potential to be a leader. Feedback is often about your blind spots. If you’re not willing to work on those blind spots, it gives the impression that you don’t believe you need to improve, and employers will see that as a detriment. So how can you turn feedback to your advantage? Here are some expert tips.

Learn a new skill.
It’s not uncommon for a manager to suggest you learn a new skill or earn a certification if you want to move to the next level in your career. Look at it as an opportunity to grow rather than feedback that you’re doing something wrong. Recognize that your manager knows more than you do about upcoming projects and organizational strategy. Your supervisor might help you prepare for a new opportunity that requires proficiency in a new skill, such as analytics or a project management professional certification. You can close a skills gap by offering to lead on a new project that would allow you to develop and demonstrate a new expertise, or by participating in an internal or external training program or course.

Be more professional.
Being told by your manager that you need to be more professional or that you need to improve your business communications can sound vague and might leave you wondering what exactly you are doing wrong. Rather than ignoring this feedback, ask your manager for clarification and advice. For instance, you could ask your boss for an example of a time you didn’t handle a situation professionally: what could you have done differently? Ask your manager if there is a colleague you can observe and learn from who emulates professionalism. Consider asking your manager to observe you during a meeting and give you immediate feedback on your communication skills.

Take more of a leading role.
If your manager tells you that you need to take more of a leading role with your team or on a project, it indicates they have confidence in your abilities. Rather than brush off that comment, take the initiative and let your boss know you want to volunteer to lead the next team project. You could also work with a coach to develop your leadership skills and an understanding of what leadership capabilities are most valuable to your organization or team.

Delegate more.
New managers often fall into the trap of micromanaging their staff. But empowering your staff to make decisions is an important leadership skill. If your manager says you should delegate more tasks, start out small and build trust with your staff. For instance, ask staff to take the lead on tasks that would not be detrimental to a business outcome. Or ask several trusted staff members to make a few low-risk decisions. Then, as their manager, sign off on their decisions rather than weigh in on the decision-making process.

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