How to handle feedback?

When someone gives us a feedback or comments on our performance, sometimes it hurts! How do we handle feedback in a positive stride?

One of the students (say Cathy) in an Honors class (filled with A+ students) received a feedback from the teacher that their performance was C-level performance. Cathy was heartbroken and ended up crying most of the day! Now, is it bad to be a C-level student or whether grading is good / bad – I do not want to go there! How to build the confidence of the individual to deal with the feedback and take the positive next steps – want to focus on that in this post.

Susie shared her story. The same teacher gave her a bad feedback few years back. She felt bad and did not know how to deal with it. Extra help and additional training did not seem to help – as she did not understand the pace at which the teacher was taking the class. She realized that this subject was not something she was good at and switched to a different area.

Sunny shared his story. The same teacher gave him a bad feedback last year. He went and spoke to her to understand how he could improve. She had minimal inputs. He wanted to impress her. So, he asked his parents to arrange for an external tutor and improved his grades. He now felt that he is an average performer who can do better with extra tutoring help, without which his scores will continue to be low.

Barry shared that he had gotten a bad feedback few years back as well that he was a B-level student (where typically he tends to be an A+ student). He pondered over the feedback and identified one thing that he would do was to never give the teacher the opportunity to give him that feedback ever and put in extra weekend effort to get his grades back up. Now, it took him two months to get back to a consistent A+ performer. Still he remembers that teacher’s feedback after all these years that it had triggered a change in him – for the better. While it was hard to gulp it down, it was necessary to introspect and accept where he was lagging behind and identify how he was going to pull his grades back up. Cathy – who was saddened by the teacher’s comments, felt much better after listening to Barry that it was a different way to handle feedback.

Teachers are expected to give hard feedback and push the students to excel and bring out the best in them. When they share their feedback, it is essential to give the student extra help or necessary support to grasp and better themselves. It is a journey that the teacher walks with every student. How much does the student know about what the teacher is monitoring other than the scores, and the kind of feedback or discussions between the teacher and student makes all the difference.

As someone receiving feedback –

  1. Understand the feedback given
  2. Introspect why someone would give you that feedback
  3. Identify root cause to address the performance gap
  4. Seek help (peers / extra help / teacher support / tutoring etc) to bridge the gap
  5. Set a goal for yourself with a clear timeline and check points to see if you are able to bridge the gap
  6. Maintain a communication channel with the person who gave you the feedback

Someone cared about the student to give them a feedback about their performance showing a dip and asking them to push up their performance levels. Is it not the same at workplaces as well? How many managers are capable of giving the right performance feedback to their teams? How does the team member react? Do employees constructively discuss their feedback with their peers to see how they can improve (like the student discussion above)?

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