“I want to look…but I don’t want to look.” Many leaders say they want feedback...at least in theory! Leaders typically know that feedback is good for them and their performance. By stepping outside of their own perspective, leaders can objectively view their current reality. Candid feedback shows people aspects of their potential and influence that they may not see otherwise. As a result, leaders better understand their strengths and weaknesses, and are more likely to take action to become more successful.
However, when the time comes for 360 feedback, these same leaders often push back with reasons why now is definitely not the right time to get feedback. Let’s reality check some common reasons why people want to put off feedback.
It’s too early in my new role.”
The company is going through too many changes right now.”
“One person I work with is really awful and I know they are going to trash me.”
“I don’t want to bother people.”
“I’m way too busy and stressed.”
Don’t Let Reasons Turn into Excuses
These reasons may be true (to varying degrees!). Nevertheless, a key part of leadership is navigating through ambiguity. As a leader, you don’t want to get in your own way with a potentially shortsighted reaction. When things are busy, stressed, changing, fluid, in transition, and challenging, it might be precisely the right time to get a reality check. Getting out of your own head will give you a more accurate perspective.
The first step to reality checking is recognizing that these reactions are part of human nature. We resist what is uncomfortable. We believe the story we are telling ourselves about the situation at hand. We avoid information that pulls us out of our comfort zone or disputes our story. We protect ourselves by going into “fight or flight” mode and delay getting feedback. Congratulations, you’re human just like the rest of us!
Now that you’ve recognized your reaction, evaluate the upside. Identify the specific longer-term benefit of getting the feedback. How can observations from others help you up your game? Instead of focusing on short-term inconvenience, remind yourself how this feedback will put you back in the driver’s seat of your performance. Feedback also provides information to help you “flex” to the current situation to get your desired results. A big reason why leaders derail is that they cannot adjust their style. Flexibility is required to calibrate to the situation to get desired results. You can’t count on the other person or situation adjusting to our needs, but you can manage yourself.
The third step is making sure the feedback you are getting is as useful and actionable as possible. Developmental feedback is not a report card. Quality feedback is not the “end all be all” measurement of a person and should not make you feel judged. Instead, quality feedback will collect actionable feedback and shows you where to focus your attention. Consider using a feedback tool, such as the Thrive 360, that highlights where to continue your efforts and pinpoints where to adjust.
Take the Lead
In writing this post, I thought about John G. Miller’s book QBQ! The Question Behind the Question. In every circumstance, we can make a deliberate choice to point fingers at others or blame a situation for what’s happening to us. Or we can choose to be accountable and ask ourselves, “What can I do to influence this situation?”. Do yourself a favor and reality check yourself so you can influence your situation.
Take a moment to reflect. What are you telling yourself that is getting in the way of feedback you need to hear? How will you reality check your perspective?