Receiving Performance Feedback

Welcome to episode 79 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss sources for feedback, types of feedback, and some tactics for receiving it.

Original Recording Date: 05-23-2020

Topics – Receiving Feedback

2:24 – Feedback Sources

  • Leadership – direct manager / leaders above
  • Peers
  • Reports
  • We hit a wall brainstorming and came across this post by Talkdesk suggesting additional sources of feedback. They suggested the following in addition to what we have listed already.
    • Customers – internal / external customers, possibly even vendors
    • Objective data – metrics used for feedback
      • The numbers need some context and are probably only a starting point when thinking of how they measure performance.
      • Good examples of this kind of data may be tickets closed, tickets opened more than 2 weeks, or perhaps a customer satisfaction rating.
      • Sometimes external sources are helpful to analyze as well as internal.

7:01 – Different Types of Feedback

  • Taken from a Corporate Communication Experts Post

    • Evaluative
      • This is feedback that gives information on where you are. It could be in comparison to peers, greater population, objective standard, or perhaps in comparison to your own standards.
      • There should be a consistent process to ensure the progression over time can be tracked, allowing the person to course correct quickly if / when needed.
    • Appreciative
      • This is to acknowledge effort made or accomplishment by an individual.
      • The article recommends linking this to the person’s values. This implies needing to know something about the other person’s values.
      • This type of feedback can help you understand the value you provide to the organization.
      • This reminded Nick of The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni and the need for employees to feel a sense of purpose / relevance in their work.
    • Coaching
      • This is separate from an evaluation and is more of an encouragement or guide toward growth.
      • This is not necessarily to address a gap (i.e. be negative) but rather to support continued / magnified success.
      • Think about athletic coaches who are always looking to
    • The article made reference to Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen. These two also wrote Difficult Conversations.
      • John and Nick have not yet read these books but definitely plan to explore them. And when we do, we can give everyone our feedback on the material. 🙂
  • Another source we used was this Talkdesk article. They had some interesting classifications of feedback.

    • Constructive
      • This is focused on giving the person receiving the feedback suggested ways to improve. The following subcategories were listed (last two of these were very interesting):
        • Negative feedback
        • Positive feedback
        • Negative feedforward
        • Positive feedforward
    • Praise
      • This is in line with the appreciative feedback mentioned previously.
    • Criticism
      • This was a type of feedback that is not helpful. It could be considered telling someone what they have done wrong in a way that doesn’t allow or suggest any way for improvement.
  • Reflecting on the categories of feedback

    • John mentions the engineer brain (something Josh Fidel mentioned in this episode) and its desire to categorize and deconstruct things as we seek to better understand why something may or may not be helpful.
    • Nick mentions taking some time to allow emotions to calm after receiving feedback for clarity. He references ideas from Switch by Chip and Dan Heath.
    • Do we actually think about the type of feedback we received when / after we receive it? Maybe we need to be more conscious of it.
    • John gives examples of the best type of feedback he’s received from managers over the years.
    • Google has an internal kudos system to encourage employees to give appreciative feedback to others.

25:03 – Tactics for Receiving Feedback to Promote Effectiveness

  • John cites the article Barriers to Effective Feedback Conversation as a reference point.
    • Emotions can be a barrier. When we feel defensive, is the other person intending to be on the offensive or just make a request of us?
      • De-escalating your emotional state can take time. Be thankful someone gave you feedback even if it is not what you wanted to hear.
      • Nick references Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron and his mention of Urban Meyer’s success equation. We can control how we respond to anything.
      • Try to ensure you are working toward growth regardless of the type of feedback received.
  • Tips from Manager Tools on 360 Reviews
    • Focus on the strengths of the feedback. Does doing "ok" in one area become a shock to your entire mindset?
    • Are your strengths in alignment with the core needs of the role?
    • A weakness is really only a weakness if it is below the needs of the role. It may only be a weakness by your standards. Would it be better to instead raise excellent category rankings to outstanding instead of focusing on the perceived weakness?
    • After John gives an interesting example of weakness in one area, Nick and encourages listeners to go back to Episode 9 for John’s view of how to dress for an interview.
    • At a minimum, acknowledge that the feedback happened. It’s polite to do this, even if you need to calm down first and then evaluate the feedback.
  • Nick shares an interesting story on feedback from a college professor in an upper level math class.

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