The phrase, “Feedback is a gift,” is so true. Without it, many of us would walk around completely clueless about what our true strengths are, what we suck at, and what impact our behaviors are having on other people. And without feedback, we may not be able to make the changes we need to make in order to grow and evolve into the amazing leader we were meant to be.

This is the time of year when many people are sitting down with their supervisors to discuss their annual achievements and review progress on their goals. Most managers dread having to fill out the forms, decide on ratings (and associated compensation in some organizations), write useful and actionable narrative, and hold the individual conversations with their team members. But, in the end, although sometimes painful and tedious, taking the time to think about someone’s contributions to the organization, share feedback on their performance, and articulate what is great about them and what they can do to be an even stronger employee, is in fact a gift.

On the flip side, when we seek out feedback about ourselves and ask others what they see in us, we are opening the door to receive those gifts as well. As executive coaches we are often asked to gather 360 feedback for our clients. We speak to bosses, peers, direct reports, partners, and other people in the client’s life to hear their perspectives about his or her strengths, communications style, leadership abilities, and areas for improvement. Just as giving feedback can be uncomfortable, receiving feedback can be even more uncomfortable. It can be hard to hear what others think about us, and even if ninety percent of the feedback is glowing, most people will zero in on the ten percent that is more critical and developmental.

No matter the flavor of the feedback – positive and yummy or negative and hard-to-swallow – there are a few very important things that you absolutely must do when you ask for feedback:

  1. Say “Thank you” to those whom you asked to provide the feedback
  2. Share highlights of what you learned
  3. Set goals and make commitments to address the areas identified in the feedback
  4. Do something – take action to achieve your developmental goals and honor your commitments

A recent post on looked at some of the mistakes that organizations make when they ask employees for feedback through employee engagement surveys or organizational assessments. The mistakes made after these surveys are very aligned with the kinds of mistakes we have seen in 360 feedback processes as well.

Bottom line: Don’t ask for feedback, if you are not prepared to act on it.

What are your best practices for making the most of feedback you receive?
Please leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For help in taking successful approaches to receiving feedback, contact Robyn at

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