Career Masterclass: Using feedback

Career Masterclass - some tips on how to make the best of feedback, good and bad.

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Last Updated: 11 Jul 2012

Clarify. The fuller and more specific the feedback, the better. If you think your manager's holding something back, express your desire to improve. If you don't agree or understand, delve deeper with questions, then summarise back to check you're on the same page.

Ask around. Your manager isn't the only person who has to work with you. Ask clients and colleagues for informal feedback and tackle urgent issues and recurring themes first.

Pick your battles. Constructive feedback is rarely groundless but can be exaggerated. Select elements you have the power to change ('they lack deal-closing skills'). Anything you can't control (a client's mood during negotiations), dismiss.

Hear the good news. Acknowledge praise as well as constructive feedback. Building on attributes can be more effective than trying to change what isn't working.

Take baby steps. Break down your most pressing challenge into manageable, short-term goals ('I'll call 10 lapsed clients today'). At the end of each week, record what you've achieved.

Confide. Ask an ally to be your spotter while you tackle feedback. They can share how others think you're doing, keep you in line and push you when you get complacent.

Have the right mindset. If something goes well, make your reflections personal, permanent and universal: 'I'm becoming a great rapport builder', not 'that client was nice'. When something goes badly see it as specific and temporary: 'that was a tricky meeting with a difficult client, and it's over'.

Be seen. Your change-management skills may be rocketing but has the feedback-giver noticed? If others praise you, ask them to pass it on.

Stay alert. Have any new issues developed while you've been working on this feedback? Take a deep breath and ask around.

The Mind Gym: Relationships is published by Little, Brown at £12.99

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