key insights for constructive workplace conversations.

  • career advice
  • June 10, 2020
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master the subtle art of giving and receiving feedback. 
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Feedback is the name of the game when it comes to learning, growth and professional development. But if you can't constructively give or objectively take it? That's too bad — because you'll need to master the subtle art of giving and receiving feedback if you want to excel in your career or advance to a management role.

So check out our latest remote-learning webinar, "making the most of feedback," if this is an area where you're struggling. Below, we've also broken down a step-by-step approach to feedback: why it's sometimes hard, why it matters so much — and how you can use it to fuel your growth.

common barriers blocking effective feedback

Feedback is a two-way street: To receive it — and reap the benefits — you have to signal that you're open to it first. But there are often barriers in the way, which might help explain why fewer than half of managers think they're currently giving enough of it to their employees, according to one survey. Let's look at those barriers in a little bit more detail.

  • Time: If you're under the gun at work, it might feel like you're way too busy to take time out to give or receive feedback effectively. 
  • Resistance: Constructive feedback can sometimes feel like criticism — or worse, a personal attack. That can lead to hostility and charged emotions, which many people would (understandably) prefer to avoid at work. 
  • Personal frustration: Feedback can stem from situations in which people feel personally disappointed or frustrated. That risks diminishing the productive or constructive aspects of the conversation.

Finally, it's also worth pointing out that physical distance — for example, the kind currently being enforced due to COVID-19 — can exacerbate any and all of the above challenges. Reading visual cues, getting the tone right and demonstrating active listening can be hard to do under the best of circumstances, never mind virtually or over text, email or chat. Yet overcoming some of those additional challenges is nonetheless critical to your professional success.

major benefits of meaningful feedback

We've broken down some of the common barriers that often stand in the way to giving and receiving constructive feedback at work. But what about the benefits? Let's look at three big ones, just for starters.

greater engagement

Studies have shown that employees feel more engaged at work when they’re asked for feedback than when they aren’t. Despite that finding, a full 65 percent of employees in another study said that they wanted to receive more on-the-job feedback than they were getting.

longer tenures

Turnover is among one of many costly consequences associated with inadequate feedback. In one study, for example, companies where employees routinely received feedback reported nearly 15 percent lower turnover levels than those where feedback was infrequent.

increased job satisfaction

It's an objective fact that ongoing input, dialogue and reinforcement makes us happier. For example, researchers have found that, among employees who receive accurate and consistent feedback, more than two thirds (68%) of them say they feel fulfilled by their jobs. Considering benefits like these, it's easy to see why feedback is so closely tied to professional development. And to make feedback even easier for you, let's jump to a few best practices you can start practicing today.

receiving feedback: simple best practices

Ready to excel in your career, grow — and maybe even move into a management role down the line? The ability to give effective and constructive feedback can be a make-or-break factor in the journey. But the emphasis, for now at least, needs to be on the former: receiving feedback effectively.

Start by modeling the following five best practices in your work environment today.

  • Put yourself in a growth mindset. Always assume that feedback is coming to you with positive intent. The goal is simply for you to continuously learn and improve in ways that will support your growth. 
  • Keep your emotions in check. Defending yourself or even arguing a point may be natural reflexes, but you'll need to suppress those instincts in order to be effective at work. 
  • Listen attentively — and don't be shy about asking questions. You should emerge from the conversation with clearly defined next steps. 
  • Express appreciation for the input. This is key, regardless of whether or not you think the feedback you received was accurate. 
  • Reflect on what you've heard. Map out how you can change your behavior going forward — and put your plan into action! 

That's it! Follow these simple steps and you'll be well positioned to learn more, grow faster and accelerate your career development.

key takeaways

We've broken down typical barriers to effective feedback loops, highlighted major benefits and shown you how you can approach feedback as a vehicle for career growth. But to complement these learnings and ensure that they stick, you should also check out our recent webinar, "making the most of feedback." It'll show you even more tips and insights you can put to use today.