How to handle developmental feedback, professionally?

Developmental feedback is a sensitive topic and even experienced managers sometimes find it difficult to handle when receiving corrective feedback.

At the root of corrective feedback, lies the behaviour of two people - 1) giving the feedback 2) receiving the feedback.

So far, we have focused on how a manager can effectively give the feedback. Let's discuss how a manager should handle or respond when he or she receives correct feedback.

  1. Agree with feedback but not how it was delivered

    When a manager essentially agrees with the content of the feedback but is unhappy about the way it was shared with, he or she should:

    • stay calm and focus on the merit of the feedback
    • assume positive intent on behalf the giver of the feedback as most commonly the intent is not to deliberately hurt
    • clarify with specific instances of the behaviour or the delivery that caused discontentment. For example "While I agree with the merit of your feedback, I would be more comfortable if you said "you need to focus on your presentation skills by focusing on ...."
    • suggest how he or she would like to receive corrective feedback in the future
  2. Do not agree with feedback

    When a manager does not agree with the corrective feedback, he or she should:

    • not react immediately and take time to respond. For example, "let me ponder on what you said and get back to you shortly.."
    • clarify assumptions, if any, as commonly disagreements are caused by wrongful assumptions
    • analyse self role, that is "are my actions or words in anyway contributed to such misinformed feedback"
  3. Not sure whether to agree or disagree

    When a manager is unsure of whether to agree or disagree with the corrective feedback received, he or she should:

    • ask for specific instances or examples of behaviour or actions that contributed to such feedback
    • ask how the person giving the feedback would have behaved or acted in such instances
    • ask what would be considered a success by the person giving the feedback
Wait! Before you go!

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