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078 | 5 tips to get useful feedback at work to help your HR/People career
Episode 7831st March 2023 • HR Coffee Time • Fay Wallis
00:00:00 00:16:08

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Getting feedback and putting it into action is a powerful way of making progress with your HR/People career. So, it can feel frustrating when you don't have any, or if the feedback you are given is vague.

Without clear feedback you can be left questioning yourself, wondering whether you're focusing on the right things and doing a good enough job. All of this can then start to chip away at your confidence.

So, in this episode of HR Coffee Time, Career Coach Fay Wallis shares 5 tips to get useful feedback at work to help your HR/People career, including:

  • The three different types of feedback
  • Getting clear on the type of feedback you need
  • How to help the feedback giver help you
  • Example questions to ask that result in useful feedback
  • An overlooked way feedback can help you succeed at work

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Inspiring HR June 2024

Learn more about Inspiring HR and sign up on this page of the Bright Sky Career Coaching website; https://brightskycareercoaching.co.uk/group-coaching-hr-professionals/

Transcripts

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Welcome to HR Coffee Time.

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It's great to have you here.

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I'm your host, Fay Wallis, a career and executive coach with a background

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in HR, and I'm also the founder of Bright Sky Career Coaching.

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I've made HR Coffee Time especially for you to help you have a successful

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and fulfilling HR and People career without working yourself into the ground.

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In this episode, I'll be sharing five tips to get useful feedback at work

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to help your HR or People career, because I know how frustrating it is

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to not be given any feedback at all at work, even if you've asked for

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it, or to just be given some vague.

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"Oh, you're doing a good job.

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Don't worry about it"

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comment, when you've asked someone for feedback, and I think this is

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especially true if you've started a new role or you've had a new leader

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join the organization you work for, and you're just looking for some reassurance

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that you're on the right track.

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Otherwise, you can be left questioning yourself and wondering whether you

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are focusing on the right things and doing a good enough job, which can

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eventually start to chip away at your confidence so you doubt yourself.

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I've been meaning to create another episode about feedback ever since

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I recorded episode 57, which was called "Using the Johari Window to

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develop and grow in your HR career".

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The Johari window can be a good tool for getting useful feedback, and I

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remember boldly saying in that episode that it was going to be the first one

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in a series of episodes about feedback.

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Well, I hadn't planned on leaving it quite so long before covering

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feedback again, but here you go.

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21 episodes later and I'm finally diving into it again.

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I've decided to cover feedback again because it's been on my

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mind for a couple of reasons.

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I've had some coaching clients recently who have been working in environments

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where they weren't getting enough feedback, so were finding it really

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frustrating, but also it's been on my mind because if you're listening to this on the

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day that the episode is released, which is going to be Friday, the 31st of March,

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2023, it will be the final day of my group program, Inspiring HR for my third cohort.

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So this is the third group of people who have been through the group program.

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I'm always sad when inspiring HR comes to an end because I really enjoy getting to

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know and working with the HR and people, professionals who are in the group.

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And one of the things I do on the last day of the program is ask for feedback.

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The feedback I get is always incredibly helpful and I've been

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able to use it to tweak and improve Inspiring HR every time I run it.

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As well as being able to use that feedback to be reassured that people

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are getting a lot out of the program.

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So I promise I will be practicing what I preach in this episode and using some of

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the tips that I'm about to share with you.

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Let's dive in and hear the first one.

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My first tip is that it's really helpful for you and the person you're going to

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be asking feedback from to be really clear on what kind of feedback it is that

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you want and why it's important to you.

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Otherwise, there's a big danger that you get feedback but it's not useful.

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And there's a really good book about feedback called, "Thanks

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for the feedback - the science and art of receiving feedback well."

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It's written by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen.

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I'll pop a link to it in the show notes in case you'd like to take a look at it.

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And in the book they explain that when we are looking for feedback, we usually

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want one of three things, appreciation,

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coaching or evaluation.

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And when we go to someone for feedback, but don't make it clear, which most

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of us don't, which one of these it is that we're looking for, the person

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we've approached for the feedback often assumes we're looking for something else.

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And that leads to crossed wires and ends up with you feeling frustrated.

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So I'll quickly talk you through these three different types of

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feedback in a bit more detail.

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The first one was appreciation.

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Now recognition is really important.

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We all like to have our hard work acknowledged in some way.

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If you hadn't had anyone saying, "Well done", or "that was a great

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piece of work", or "Thank you", or, "I appreciate your help with that",

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it can sometimes spark a strong desire or a need to have some appreciative

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feedback or otherwise you can start to feel demotivated and a bit fed up.

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But sometimes even if you do want to have appreciation as feedback and you are

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given some appreciation, the appreciation can feel like it doesn't go far enough.

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So if you've asked for feedback and you've been told, "Oh, you're doing a great job",

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and "keep up the good work", that is a type of appreciation, but it's vague.

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You ideally want to have some more information, so you want to ask things

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like, "How am I doing a good job?"

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Or, "What is it about the work that's good?"

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Of course there are lots of times that appreciation isn't the feedback

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you're looking for or that you need.

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So for example, if you are keen to take a step up into a more senior

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role and you need feedback on how to make the move, appreciation isn't

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really going to be helpful at all.

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If you're just given appreciation as feedback,

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you are going to end up feeling a bit frustrated.

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Instead, it's more likely that you're going to want to hear one

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of the other two types of feedback.

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So the second one was, Coaching, but I'd call it coaching slash mentoring.

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This is all about being given advice or support to help you expand your

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knowledge or improve your skills.

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So thinking back to our example of wanting to take a step up into a more

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senior role instead of appreciation the kind of feedback that is more likely

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to be useful is to have some advice and insights into how to make the move or

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how to get ready to take that step up.

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So useful feedback might be to be told, it would help you progress if you had

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more experience and confidence with public speaking or coaching other people,

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or improving your data analysis skills.

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Or, anything, whatever it is that could help you, and then being given some advice

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or guidance ideally on how to do this.

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The third kind of feedback covered in the book is evaluation.

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Now there is actually evaluation in all feedback.

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If you're given appreciation as feedback, for example, the implied

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evaluation is that you've done something well or you've done something good.

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If you're given coaching and mentoring, the evaluation is often sitting behind

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the advice or the encouragement given.

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but there are also times when the most useful feedback that you could

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have is going to be to tell you where you stand with something, that you

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are given some form of evaluation.

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Now, this tends to show up in the most obvious way at performance appraisal time.

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So if your organization uses a ranking system and you're given

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a number or a grade, but it shows up in lots of other ways too.

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So for example, if you are going for a promotion and you are up against a

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colleague or an external candidate, you want to know is there any point

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in you putting yourself forward?

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Where are you on that list of people?

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And when it's happened, when you've had an interview and you've gone

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through the process, you want to know, how did I do compared to the others?

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Where could I strengthen up?

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Or what did I do particularly well?

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. And of course another example is if you've started a new role, you might want to

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know, are you meeting their expectation.

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You don't want to be agonizing over am I going to pass my probation at the end of

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your probation period if you've got one.

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So once you are clear on the kind of feedback that's going to be most helpful

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for you, whether that is appreciation, coaching and mentoring or evaluation,

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my second tip is to let the person know

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that you're going to be asking them for feedback.

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It's so much better for both of you if they've had even a little

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bit of time to think about it.

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We all know what it's like to have someone put us on the spot

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and our mind go completely blank.

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Well, I know that's happened to me before.

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And then that means that they're not able to do the best job of

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giving you helpful feedback.

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So help set the person up for success with their feedback delivery by

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giving them a little bit of warning.

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Then my third tip is to try to make sure you give them some context and detail.

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Don't assume they've been paying careful attention to your work or can remember

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exactly what you've been doing because of course, most people are focused on

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themselves more than anyone else, and their thinking will have mainly been

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immersed in their own work, not yours.

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Certainly not all of yours, unless of course, lots of your work's impacting on

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their work and their results, but they just won't be able to remember everything.

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So try and give them that context and explain not only what kind of

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feedback is going to be helpful for you, but remind them of what it is that

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you've been doing that's relevant to the feedback you're asking them for.

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Then my next tip is to use open questions instead of closed questions.

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So by open questions, I mean questions that can't be answered with a

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simple "yes" or "no" when the person responds to you, because that means

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you are much more likely to get a more detailed piece of feedback

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and therefore more useful feedback.

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To help explain what I mean here are some examples of fairly

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generic feedback questions.

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So you might want to use one of these, or you might want to come up with your

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own one that's much more specific for the feedback that you would like to have.

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But here are some open-ended examples.

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"What are some areas where you think I'm doing well?"

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"How do you think I could improve in my role?"

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"What do you think I should start doing, stop doing or continue doing?"

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"How do you think I can contribute to the team's success?"

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"What do you think are my biggest strengths and how can I

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leverage them more effectively?"

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"How do you think I can improve my communication with colleagues,

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clients, or stakeholders?"

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"What other feedback or insights do you have that can help me

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grow and develop in my role?"

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My next tip is to be mindful of your reaction to the feedback that

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you are given, and thank the person who gives it to you, even if it

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isn't what you wanted to hear.

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If you disagree with what they tell you initially, ask them some more open-ended

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questions to try to get a better understanding of their point of view and

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how they've arrived at their thinking.

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Otherwise, if you bristle, you get cross or you dismiss

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their feedback or you start.

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"But, but you don't know.

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You don't understand."

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You're going to hugely reduce your chances of getting any useful feedback

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from them in the future because they're going to be worried about your

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reaction and not wanting to upset you.

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That brings us along to my final tip, and that is one that often isn't talked

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about with feedback when it comes to our careers, and that is the benefit

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it can have for your career when it comes to getting buy-in for your ideas.

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If you've ever been involved in any change management, you'll

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probably have learned or realized.

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What a massive difference it makes to involve other people in your plans

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and ask for their feedback and input.

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If they're giving you their ideas, their feedback, their suggestions,

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right from the very beginning of your project or your initiative, they are

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so much more likely to be on board with it when it's the polished,

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finished version ready to launch.

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So if you want to launch a new project, you want to get buy-in for a new policy,

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or you want to have the senior leadership team on board with your new HR strategy

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or People plan, involving them and asking them for their feedback is going to

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hugely increase your chances of being successful later on down the line.

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This is a big switch in behaviour I often see when someone moves into a

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more senior role and it can feel a bit uncomfortable at first because when we

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were all at school, we were conditioned to just keep on working on something

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until we got it perfect and then submit it so we could get an A, but of course

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that isn't how the world of work works.

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It's certainly not how it works as you progress in your role and start

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finding yourself moving up the ranks.

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It's pretty unusual that you can just beaver away on a strategy or a plan

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or a process on your own and then put it in front of everyone else and

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expect to get their buy-in and have them admiring how fantastic it is.

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Instead, if you make sure you're getting feedback along the way, you are much

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more likely to have everyone saying how fabulous it is and how well bought into it

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they are because they can see that you've taken their input on board and they've

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been able to get used to the idea of it.

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So that brings us to the end of the episode today.

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I really hope that you found it helpful.

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Please do let me know how you get on with putting any of the ideas into

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action if you decide to give them a try.

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And it's my turn to ask for feedback from you.

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. If you have been enjoying the show and finding it useful, I would be hugely

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grateful if you could rate and review it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify for me.

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Thank you so much if you do go ahead and do that.

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It makes such a big difference in encouraging the podcasting platforms

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to suggest the show to other HR and People professionals who might

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not have come across it before.

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And I would just love to help as many people as possible

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with this free weekly podcast.

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So thank you so much.

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Have a great week, and I will be back again next week on Friday

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