Recently, a coaching client – an experienced lawyer and partner – gave me some superb professional feedback. And it got me thinking.
The feedback acknowledged how she had met her development challenges and achieved her desired outcomes, through our coaching work. But she also added a generous personal touch – that the opportunity for us to work together had been:
‘The cherry on top of a well-rounded coaching and mentoring experience!’
A lovely compliment, for which I thanked her. I paid attention to her feedback and focused on doing more of the ‘good stuff.’ I also celebrated her comment by proudly adding the quote to my website. Her words meant something.
I coach lawyers for a living and support legal clients with specialist legal search projects. I love what I do and feedback like this always motivates me to do more. It demonstrates first-hand how positive feedback both boosts confidence and shows people how they are valued.
So, are we giving and getting enough of the feedback we need?
Another coaching client – an ambitious lawyer and emerging leader – was due his appraisal earlier in the summer. It never happened. Already delayed several times, my client expressed frustration at the lack of importance placed on his need for that discussion. Ultimately, his employer was risking him becoming demotivated.
There are few good enough reasons to delay giving feedback to interested parties. So, it feels timely and appropriate, as we set out our best intentions to plan this final quarter of the calendar year, to take action and create a successful close – especially as it will lead into ‘appraisal season’ for many. We should all be focused on giving and receiving a little more feedback.
There are many good reasons to focus on feedback.
Regardless of when or how it’s delivered, the act of ‘feeding back’ is essential. It’s a vital lesson I’ve learned from my legal in-house clients and running teams and businesses myself over the past 27 years. Here’s why:
- Feedback is a gift that can help you grow, both professionally and personally.
- Feedback can clarify expectations. You cannot measure performance otherwise.
- Feedback helps people learn from mistakes and build confidence.
- Feedback can be given in all situations – not just formal, evaluation settings – to encourage and improve outcomes.
- Feedback can be either constructive or affirming about past or future behaviour.
- Feedback raises awareness, gives a sense of purpose, and can identify ‘rock stars’ among other things!
Leading and seeking feedback, even from a distance.
In my long experience working with lawyers, I’ve seen a sea change in how leaders are ‘feeding back’ these days. The old-school ‘command and control’ system of using multiple performance indicators stacked up in an annual review is making way for a more inclusive model that involves employees, alongside leaders, to grow, evolve and develop, resulting in a more rounded feedback process and beneficial outcomes.
Admittedly, these distancing years of Covid-19 have made it that bit harder to assess how engaged employees are or how they are feeling to offer productive feedback sometimes. But, it is still possible – and perhaps even more necessary. Leaders have it in their power to help employees feel valued by inviting feedback and encouraging input into the creation of a positive working culture.
But, it’s not all on leaders. Individuals can actively seek feedback too. But it’s a skill and can be learned as an essential part of professional development.
The best way to learn from feedback is to listen.
Let’s be clear, it’s great to get positive feedback, but sometimes it’s not always so rosy. Constructive feedback can be difficult to hear, and we might have an emotional or defensive reaction. We may even view ourselves as having failed. However, it’s important to remember: ‘there is no failure, only feedback.’
As a coach and NLP Practitioner, I encourage my clients to approach feedback honestly and listen out for what is really being said. We all make mistakes, so when this happens to you, ask yourself, what could you learn from it? Suspend judgement. Take time to really reflect on the process and information. Because feedback, even when constructive, is a growth opportunity, if you let it.
We can choose how we react and learn from it – just like when you learned to ride a bike. When you fell off, you didn’t fail, you re-grouped and then got straight back on and you kept on trying until you got there! You were simply learning a new skill.
A little bit of feedback every day does you good.
So, should feedback be a rare cherry on top, or should it be part of our everyday life? Of course it should. With it we can create opportunities and grow in confidence. Without it we are frustrated, even limited.
Do you remember the last time someone gave you feedback on your performance? Or, do you remember when you last passed your feedback onto another? If you have to think about this, it was probably too long ago.
Need some help with feedback?
If you would like a conversation, either about delivering or receiving feedback, please contact Rachael at searchcoach@rachaelnorth.