Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Feedback: its the breakfast of champions"

I’m a virgo; therefore by nature I am bit of a perfectionist and a tad critical. I know this about myself and I am aware of the positives and negatives associated with those two character traits. Another thing to note about me as you continue reading this post is that I am a very self-aware. I have taken a number of typology tests including True Colors, Myers Brigs, and Strengthsquest with the intent of developing a better understanding of who I am. Through these assessments I have learned about my strengths, my areas of improvement, and I have developed a better understanding of how to work to become a better me.
You have heard many of times that no one is perfect and by now it just seems like a cliché; however we all have flaws and as I have matured I have learned how to accept the notion that I am not perfect and there are areas that I still need to work on.

Being in a profession that requires a lot of collaboration, teamwork, group dialogue, and self- disclosure can be challenging for an individual that is very focused on being as close to perfect as possible. I hold my cards fairly close and it takes me awhile to self-disclose and be open to others. I must admit I am a tad bit selective with my trust, but rightfully so.

Professional evaluations, feedback processes, and assessments are essential for the success of our departments but also our growth as professionals. I value constructive feedback because I know that it is an opportunity for me to grow; however what happens when you receive a nugget of feedback or criticism that you feel is not an accurate representation of you or your work? How do you move forward from that feedback?

1: Move past your personal feelings toward the feedback. No one wants their flaws to be exposed; however you must not allow the feedback to impact you personally. It is important that you allow the personal feelings towards the feedback to be separated from the professional feedback in order to move forward. If you neglect to follow this step, you will restrict your ability to grow through this process.

2: Seek Guidance from someone you trust who can relate to you personally and professionally but that does not have a direct link to the source of the feedback. When I had to personally deal with a situation similar to this I picked up the telephone and contacted my GLACUHO mentor, Ann Marie Klotz. I shared with her my concerns and listened to her wisdom and guidance. She shared two things with me that continue to have an impact on me months later.

The first thing she shared was the notion that “Perception is Reality” It is very important that you analyze the feedback from all angles. Is there any way that what is being said is true or can be perceived as true? Remember that oftentimes individuals you work with do not know you in the same context as friends and family; therefore your personality traits can be misread and misinterpreted by others. I challenge you during this process to re-evaluate your actions and relationships and become more conscious of how others perceive you. Try to develop better relationships with all your colleagues so that they gain a deeper understanding of who you are and you can gain that same understanding of them.

The second thing she shared with me was that sometimes you have to set some feedback you receive to the side. Does that mean you completely ignore it? No. It just means that you do not allow yourself to become overly worked up on something you cannot meaningfully process, reflect upon, and change. If you have the opportunity to talk to the source of the feedback that would be a great step in gaining more perspective, but if not, it may be best to file that feedback away for a while and come back to it at a later date.

As we enter into the formal Mid-Year Feedback process, I hope that these tidbits of wisdom are beneficial for you. Remember that feedback is an essential part of our profession; no one is perfect and we all have flaws. Not all feedback that you receive will be easy to hear. You may need to swallow your pride and accept it, and you might need to reach out for support and guidance in order to move forward. You may even need to seek out the source of the feedback to gain better understanding and at times you might just need to file the feedback away and come back to it at a later date. Growth and development is a process that we will never be able to get away from. Embrace feedback and allow it to be your motivation to grow.

Here is a fun quote to get you excited about the Feedback process:

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

Follow me on twitter @BdeniseCole

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