Feedback is, without realizing it, something we have to cope with on a daily basis. Hard to believe? Consider, for example, how often you tell your parents or friends what you think of the meal they prepared, whether it is delicious or not, you give feedback, or you receive it after you have cooked yourself. And most likely there have been other times where you are aware of getting feedback, for example on a paper you wrote during your studies or feedback you got during the application process…
Even within organizations, feedback is becoming increasingly important! Companies are becoming more and more aware of the power of human capital. Technology, procedures, websites, … can be copied by other organizations. It is the people within the organization who make the difference! Organizations, therefore, have every interest in investing in the development of their employees. Research shows the benefits of using effective feedback practices in developing human capital within the organization and, consequently, in achieving competitive advantage in the market. By informing employees about the positive and negative aspects of their performance, they can develop and improve their performance in the future, which leads to a win-win situation for the employee and the organization.
So, you just must give and ask a lot of feedback, easy, right?
We believe that giving and receiving feedback is important. Getting feedback is a basic human need, we need feedback on our performance and you should interpret it as a gift. You accept it, thank the giver and then put it in a closet and never look at it again. OR you receive it, unpack it and take advantage of it! You better see feedback as an opportunity to learn something. If you don’t really understand what the feedback means, ask for an explanation and think about what to do with it.
Feedback is a necessary condition to improve performance in the future. But… giving and receiving feedback is not easy at all. People generally do not like to receive feedback and do not actively ask for it because it is perceived as somewhat confronting. We enjoy receiving compliments for the work we do well, but being pointed out to pitfalls is not easy. That’s why we are constantly making cost-benefit analyses in our heads to see if we want feedback.
Nevertheless, feedback is a two-way process. Giving feedback is also quite difficult! Most people are hesitant to provide constructive performance feedback to others for fear of negative reactions from them. Unfortunately, this fear is justified because recipients of feedback do not always respond in an understanding way. In some studies, almost 98% of managers report having encountered some form of aggressive behavior from the feedback receiver in the past after communicating negative performance feedback. Because managers or people in general, want to actively avoid negative behavior after receiving feedback, giving negative feedback is sometimes avoided.
How to get the most out of feedback
Why is it important to address all of this? Well, the result of what we mentioned above is a feedback gap: constructive feedback is often not provided and feedback receivers do not actively solicit it. It is a shame not to ask for and give feedback: because of this, we miss many learning opportunities! It is also essential not to view feedback as a criticism of yourself. Useful workplace feedback focuses on actions and impact of the behaviour rather than an employee’s attitude or personal characteristics. It responds to specific actions that are done in the process of performing your job. In what follows we would like to explain how best to deal with feedback.
Receive: Firstly, it is important to receive feedback, whether or not unsolicited. Dare to actively ask for feedback and when receiving feedback, don’t immediately view it as something negative.
Reflect: Feedback is useless unless it is followed up by individual self-reflection. It’s all about your mindset. When you view feedback as a means of self-development, it is much easier to accept this feedback and actively work on it. By reflecting on this, you will not only get to know yourself better, but you will also see yourself grow.
Plan: The next step entails designing an action plan. This plan should be SMART: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely. Do not aim to change the entire world at once; craft a plan that is challenging, yet doable.
Act: Implement an action plan to improve your application process for the future and to get your ideal dream job.
Maximize your feedback during job hunting
Taking a second look at the first draft of your CV or motivation letter never hurts. So have your resume read by a friend, your parents or even an acquaintance. Ask them if the resume describes who you are and what you stand for. Do not only ask for positive feedback but also dare to actively ask for points of improvement. If this is a big barrier for you, start by asking for feedback from a trusted person but also challenge yourself in the future by speaking to an acquaintance, you will see how instructive this is.
Feedback is key in the application process. Actively ask for feedback after each conversation. If this person cannot give you feedback at that moment, arrange a time in the future when this person can give you feedback in writing, by telephone or face-to-face. Especially if you were not offered the job, it is interesting to know why this was: was it your resume, your motivation letter or lack of knowledge about the organization. Measuring is knowing! It is only when you know what went wrong that you can improve it in the future. When you ask for feedback, explain why you are asking them for feedback and how you will use it. Also, make it clear that you want to get honest feedback to learn from.
In conclusion, we can say that giving and receiving feedback is something of great value if been done properly. We need to embrace it as a learning tool and consider it as a gift that ultimately needs to be opened and used. Once we do this, we will give and receive feedback easier and it allows us to continuously improve our performance and learn from past mistakes. When used during your job applications it will help you improve your job hunting!