Criticism, even in its most constructive form, puts humans on the defense. It’s a natural reaction, but it isn’t necessarily the most professional one. Responding to every gut reaction, after all, would make us all quite Neanderthal, no?
While it’s tough to respond to difficult feedback regarding your work performance and even tougher to stop that stress response from automatically triggering, it’s essential to control the response enough so that you take away the critical aspects of the assessment.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you are receiving solicited (or unsolicited) advice on bettering your performance at your job.
- Assume Positive Intent: Considering the feedback is coming from your team or manager, you should presume that the advice you are receiving is provided with your organization’s best interest at heart (so in turn, your own)! Before putting up your defensive walls, understand that most of the time, the people you work with are genuinely trying to identify ways to help make your work the best it can be. Think of it this way: if you were a lost cause, would anyone even bother to help boost your efforts? When you receive constructive criticism, the provider likely sees your potential and hopes to be a part of helping you excel the results of your entire team and your company.
- Actively Listen: Active listening does not mean you are silently debating the points the advice-giver is making or wondering why they had the audacity to approach you in the first place. Active listening involves undivided attention, eye contact, asking helpful questions, repeating key points and knowing you owe it to yourself to become the best coworker and employee for your company.
- Process Before Reacting: Some criticism is more difficult to sort out than others. Breathe deeply and try to objectively listen to the speaker’s points before commenting, rolling your eyes (even internally), arguing or making a face. If necessary, remove yourself entirely from the equation and imagine that these same things were being said about a coworker. This allows you to focus on the specific work traits the person critiquing you is addressing and not on your flaws as a human being. Chances are, if you overheard the same observations about someone else on the team, you wouldn’t think it was so harsh.
- Your Whole is Greater Than the Sum of Your Parts: Repeat after me: you are not the mistakes you make. Try and separate the skills you need to improve on from yourself. Criticism shouldn’t feel like it’s being targeted to your whole being. You are a person with a mind, a body and a soul and a piece of criticism only addresses one small trait you possess.
- Seek to Understand: Don’t be afraid to ask for examples of the direction provided if you aren’t quite sure what is being addressed. Asking questions about someone’s suggestions is not the same as debating their input, so feel free to request specific scenarios. If it’s a supervisor reviewing your performance, inquire on other things you could potentially improve on. They will surely be impressed that you took the criticism like a pro and came back for more!
- Be Humble: At Pipefy, one of our values is Humble to Improve Fast, meaning that our employees understand that everyone is continuously developing skills and behaviors as professionals and human beings. We listen to the constructive criticism of others and work on personal and professional development, regardless of our rank in the company. When someone takes the time out of their day to review your work, they probably are hoping to see you succeed. Constant growth is crucial for a growing company, and there is no growth without employees who take good constructive criticism to heart.
- Take the Initiative to Implement Changes: Now that you’ve listened to, unfolded and appreciated the guidance, it’s time to apply said changes to your work. Try and work the feedback into your projects and tasks and see what happens. If it’s feedback requested by your manager, follow up with them after you start putting the prompting into action and ensure that they are satisfied with your new progress.
Stop fearing your performance reviews and start getting excited for the personal growth that could flourish from implementing great guidance. If you’re worried about the effectiveness of your current Performance Evaluation process, you’re in luck! Pipefy can help you manage it in a Lean and strategic way today!