Want to Take Your Career to the Next Level? Ask for Feedback!
by Stacey Rivers
Ever been in this situation before? You thought you were doing a great job and your boss just gave you a performance review that says you need to improve. Don’t let constructive feedback bring down your morale, learn how to use that information to jump start you to being a superstar!
Constructive feedback can be a challenge to accept because one, it makes you realize you are not as great as you thought, and two, while we all want to hear wonderful things about ourselves, there will be times when you will get feedback that is not flattering. When this happens, the question simply becomes, what will you do with it? Will you sit there in denial or will you roll up your sleeves and take the challenge to improve? I hope you choose the latter…read on.
I’ll never forget that day when I had to deliver a 20-minute presentation in my marketing class and someone evaluated how many times I said “uhm”. Student evaluations were part of the grade, but this particular evaluation was different because I was not aware of my use of the phrase “uhm”, as if it was a real word. The person that wrote the student evaluation stated that I said “uhm” 43 times in a 20 minute period. That’s about 2 “uhms” a minute! I felt so bad, especially because I thought I had done well delivering my presentation and was not aware that I had this crutch.
Fast forward a year, my manager invited me to a Toastmasters meeting where we regularly participated in the table topics sessions and delivered speeches. After six months, the club dissolved from lack of members and my manager and I chartered a Toastmasters chapter at our place of employment.
Our Toastmasters club was chartered in 2005, and since then has garnered the President’s Distinguished Award for several years. This award is given by Toastmasters International for meeting or exceeding the highest standard for a successful club. I served as President for two years, and during that time my leadership team created strategic programs to help this employee-led organization gain visibility with senior leaders and employees. Some of the programs my team and I created included an advisory council made up of leaders from functional areas such as Human Resources, Finance, and Operations to help guide Toastmasters strategy, and a speaker series to give a forum for executive and employees to share experiences. We staffed an alternate meeting for employees who could not attend the regular meeting, started a mentoring program, and other events to keep the club moving forward while focusing on employee development.
As I look back on that day when I delivered that horrible presentation in marketing class, I had two choices: stay in denial and do nothing, or take the challenge to improve what someone so graciously pointed out. That person, whoever he was, gave me a gift, and that simple feedback has exponentially changed my life for the better. Not only did I improve my public speaking skills, but I also developed leadership skills, gained visibility, and created relationships with people from all levels of the organization.
If you have been given constructive feedback, take an honest assessment of yourself. If you agree there is room for improvement, then make a plan to do something about it. Choosing improvement over denial can give your career the lift you’ve been looking for!
Stacey Rivers is the Director of Technical Project Management at Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc. where she leads a Project Management Office (PMO) for a technical organization. She has served on the Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) Southeast Board for the past 4 years, and served as President of Turner Toastmasters for 2 years.